I am Brisbane born and bred. My dad left when I was six months old, and Mum brought up me and my brother on her own. My brother died when he was 17, very suddenly of an aneurism. I missed him terribly. We shared a great love of rugby league. It took me years to get over his death. I was devastated, as was Mum.
Dad reached out to me when I was 40 – but I didn’t want anything to do with him. He passed away when he was in his eighties. A family member tracked me down and I went to his funeral. I wasn’t expecting to feel much – but I cried and cried that day.
I have never married and have no kids.
I worked in the archives department of Queensland’s Department of Transport for 36 years. I was one of the 14,000 government workers who lost their job in a big restructure. Luckily, I got a redundancy payment, but could not find work. I then received access to my super through hardship, but that didn’t last long and I still had no job opportunities. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who let me live in their house and I am still living there.
Things got so bad for me that I started begging. That is when a fabulous police officer, Scott, came to me and suggested that I sell The Big Issue. I am forever grateful to him for that. The Big Issue has been a real lifeline for me, it has made my life worth something. It has given me a reason to keep going and I feel that I am now giving something back.
I am not an “in your face” type of person. I just stand quietly and smile. I have met some really lovely people since I have been selling The Big Issue. One of my customers, Christine, and her mum take me for coffee every fortnight. Another one of my customers, John, played rugby league at an international level. He takes me for a coffee occasionally, too.
I love the interaction. A lot of people have the wrong idea about The Big Issue. We are not all homeless – but we are all trying to improve our lives.
Brett C sells The Big Issue on The Goodwill Bridge, Brisbane.
Interview by Susie Longman.
Photo by Barry Street.