I’m an Indigenous man. My mum’s Wiradjuri from Brungle Mission. I hate saying this, but I was born in Queensland. Why do I hate saying it? Because I’m not a cane toad! I’m a footy freak, a South Sydney fan! I was born in Redcliffe and they’ve got a footy team joining the NRL – the Redcliffe Dolphins. But I’ll never change teams. No way.

I grew up in Sydney. I was really smart at school, but I went to a lot of schools and I got kicked out of a lot of schools. Everything was too easy and then I got bored and started mucking around and getting other people in trouble. I went from Year 5 to Year 7 – I skipped Year 6 – and my sister was pissed off because she was 16 months older than me and I started high school the same year as her. I didn’t finish high school, but I’ve done a lot of study. I want to do a diploma in youth service work next.

I became a ward of the state when I was 12 or 13. When they let me out I became transient I was on the street. I was on the housing list for 23 years before I finally got my place in 2018. Rainbow Lodge are a group who help Aboriginal men and they helped me get my house and deck it out.

I haven’t used drugs in nearly three years; that’s a big thing for me. It makes me feel so happy. I used to shave and brush my teeth in the shower. And the last time I got out of jail, I said to myself Why are you always brushing your teeth and shaving in the shower? And I realised it’s because when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t like that person – I didn’t want to look at that person – so I decided to change and become the person I like.

I’m about to start mediation. How I haven’t died by now is beyond me. I should have been dead 50 times. I’m lucky, I’m here. So hopefully everything works out fine for us.

This is probably my fifth time selling The Big Issue. I just love doing it. I love seeing people smile, even if I don’t get money – I don’t care. To see someone walk past grumpy and I make them smile, that works for me – I’m a pretty laid-back character like that.

I always catch the ferry home and sit on the front deck. I love when the water hits me in the face and I know I’ve had a good day. Even if I’ve only had a $25 day, it’s the same feeling. Then when I get home I think, You know what, I haven’t sat at home all day waiting around to die like these people think I’m going to do. I’m doing everything I can – training, swimming, riding my bike… I’ve just got to get off the cigarettes. They’re going to kill me, and I don’t want to die.

Bevan sells The Big Issue at the corner of Pitt and Market Streets, Sydney.

Interview by Anastasia Safioleas.

Photo by Michael Quelch.