I grew up in the Riverina area in New South Wales. It was good, but there’s not much in the country. I went to a Catholic school up until I hit high school. Then we moved and I went to Nelson Park School in Victoria. We did PE, shopping times, and gardening.

I’m partially deaf. When I was little, I used to have a lot of ear infections. My hearing aids have helped me so much over the years. Unfortunately, back when I was younger, they didn’t have Auslan. I didn’t get taught that. I wish I had – it’s hard to learn it as an adult.

I heard about The Big Issue in Adelaide, through my mum. Then we moved back towards family in Melbourne.

Here in Canberra, I start my Big Issue shift at 9.30am, because I have a daughter. She’s eight years old and I try and do it in school hours.

Some people know that I’m deaf. They don’t just walk up and make me jump. They come up and say, “Hello. Can you hear me okay?” and I say, “Yeah, fine.” So that’s one of the things I like about The Big Issue. The other thing is, people come up and ask you sometimes what’s in the magazine, or who the Canberra vendor for the calendar is.
I work with my husband Shane. We go on the bus together, then he goes down his side and I go down mine. He works at Aldi and I work near the Canberra Times Fountain. We’ve been together 12 years this year.

Shane’s a nice person. We met on a chat line. When I first met him, he was living on the streets, mainly. He asked me, “Can I go out with you?” and I said, “Yes,” because I knew him from the chat line. Then we went and stayed in Goulburn for quite a while. He had his own tent, and we slept in a tent in Goulburn, where the Big Merino is. Then me and Shane went to Wagga and that’s where my daughter was born: in Wagga!

St. Vincent de Paul helped us. Here in Canberra, they put me in housing for a little while – I think three months – then they got me this house! We moved here about five years ago. One reason I came to Canberra is because of my mum. I do support my mum, who I absolutely love. My mum loves Shane, too, so that’s good.

Plans for the future are to see my daughter grow up and become her dream, which is a firefighter. If she can’t become a firefighter, she wants to be a dancer – hip-hop. She does classes every Saturday morning, nine o’clock. Granny comes there and we all meet up and have a day together. She loves seeing Granny.

The Big Issue helps me make friends and not be at home a lot. Because I’m the type of person that, if I stay at home, I get sorta lonely. I want to be with my husband, and I miss my daughter when she goes to school. But she’s got to go to school and make friends. She’s got to get an education.

Kim sells The Big Issue at the Canberra Centre, Canberra

Interview by Aimee Knight
Photo by Rohan Thomson

Published in ed#700