Issue #638

25th Birthday

The Big Issue turns 25! To mark this mighty milestone, we are celebrating all things Big Issue in this bigger, shinier edition jam-packed with memories, messages, cartoons, photos and stories – and a big birthday cake. From our launch on the steps of Flinders Street Station on 16 June 1996 till now, we reflect on our history, our people and our community.

“I remember back then in 96 our office just had one lady, with a few boxes of Big Issues, and our office was above the church. No machinery, no computers, no nothing – just a lady who would go around and ask people if they wanted to sell. It’s really come along, huh? It’s just incredible.”
Lionel, Melbourne vendor, 1996–now




Also in this edition
  • Our arts editors share their Top-10 lists of the best albums, films, TV series and books from the past 25 years – sure to spark debate and a trip down memory lane.
  • We tell a little of our story so far, from our humble beginnings on the streets of Melbourne to a nationwide organisation. It’s an inspiring and funny tale of resilience, resourcefulness and lots of goodwill, as told by Big Issue vendors, staff and supporters.
  • From art exhibitions to literacy lessons, permanent housing to competing in the Homeless World Cup, our people share their stories of how The Big Issue makes a big difference.
  • Adelaide vendor Mark observes the city, his customers and some pesky pigeons during a day on his pitch.
  • Meet our very first cover star: busker Shep Huntly, who juggled knives in our cutting-edge 1996 cover shoot. And check out our online gallery of Big Issue covers.
  • Cartoonist Andrew Weldon has been sharing his unique take on the world since our very first edition – 25 years later, we bring you his very first (and very hilarious) mini-mag lift-out!
  • Housing in Australia is in crisis, with a shortage of more than 600,000 social and affordable homes. We look at how The Big Issue’s Homes for Homes is making a difference by raising funds to build properties for people like Tracey and her sons to call home.
  • Year 9 student Cody Hammock learns important life lessons in The Big Issue Classroom.



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