I was born in Horsham, in Victoria. When I was two, we moved to Hopetoun, which is about two hours from Mildura. I had four brothers, one has passed. I’m the baby. My dad was sort of strict, and my mum was like me, caring. My parents died about six years ago, exactly two weeks apart. It was hard on all of us.
When I was two years old, I fell 17 feet [five metres] off a football grandstand. Mum and Dad were there doing a working bee. I was beside my mum, and I wandered off. After a while, Mum looked around for me. She said: “Dad, have you seen Craig?” They found me at the bottom of the stairs. I was clinically dead.
Mum and Dad rushed me to the hospital in Hopetoun, where they stabilised me – then they took me straight to The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. I was in a coma for three months, and in the hospital for nine months. My mum was by my side all the time. Dad stayed with my brothers, and came down every fortnight. One of the right-side nerves in my brain was damaged. I have an ABI, acquired brain injury.
My family came down to Melbourne. I went to school at Yooralla in Balwyn. I lived there from the ages of six to 18. I was good at maths. I used to be a terror. There were about 14 guys with muscular dystrophy who were in a group of their own, and I got accepted in. We were all terrors.
When I left school, I was a paper boy around my area. And I sold the newspaper and Metcards up at Canterbury Station with my dad helping me. I did that for 18 years.
This month, I’ve been selling The Big Issue for 16 years. Selling The Big Issue gives me a life. It gets me out of home. I love talking to people. It’s not about selling; for me, it’s about interacting with other people. If people come by, we talk. The income also means I can get whatever I want to.
I’m still at Yooralla. Now I live in Box Hill with a few housemates, and there’s full-time care. A few months ago, me and one of my one-on-ones went on a holiday to Gippsland.
In my spare time, I like walking my dog, Fellow, a kelpie cross. He’s 10 now; I got him when he 18 months old. He’s a rescue dog. He’s one of my best mates. We go for a walk every day, sometimes two times a day. I also like watching CSI and NCIS, and comedies like the Carry On movies.
I go to church in Blackburn every Sunday. I meet people there. It’s down to earth, not like other churches. The pastor is great. And I thank the big man upstairs every day that I’m still here, still breathing. I wake up every morning and feel alive.
I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy life. God bless all of you.
Craig sells The Big Issue at the Rialto and Maling Road in Canterbury, Melbourne
Interview by Amy Hetherington
Photo by James Braund