I grew up in Adelaide, in Cowandilla. I was there for about 15 years. My parents split up, and I ended up on my own. I was homeless for a while. Then I did mining and stuff, looking for opals in Coober Pedy. I’d find some now and then, just enough to keep going. It’s a hard job, it’s dangerous, but you’ve got to do it to survive.

Coober Pedy is…different. It was an adventure. I used to like the hot weather – couldn’t handle it now. The storms were wild, and the sunsets. It’s the best scenery there. But I haven’t been there for a long time. Things went wrong. I had an accident. Rolled the car on the highway near Port Augusta, went through the windscreen. I’m lucky to be alive. I was in a coma for a while. I had to start everything again. It ruined my life, but I recovered. That was in 1990. Afterwards, I came back to Adelaide. I had a few issues from it, ended up developing schizoaffective disorder.

People helped me get better. It’s been a hard road. I get a bit down sometimes, but I keep going.  It got really tough during the pandemic. My house got smoke damage from a fire next door. I lost everything. I had insurance, but I had to start again. I got unwell, but I recovered. I got a new place. That was just over a year ago. I’m trying to get back up again.  I’m on my own, just trying to get ahead. Things tend to fall apart sometimes – it happens. You’ve got to pick yourself up, keep going. That’s why I came to The Big Issue about three or four years ago.

Through The Big Issue, I meet nice people, make a bit of extra income to help me get by when times are hard.  When I’m not selling, I watch TV. I like the news, mining shows, stuff about cars. I like cars, but don’t have a licence. My dream car is a Dodge Viper, blue, driving down the highway with someone to talk to. I had a nice car when I was young – a Charger. It was all done up. It was quick! I used to have a pet parrot – I had him for nine years. His name was Toast. He was an all-white Indian ringneck. He was a good pet, and it was nice to have company, but I couldn’t look after him anymore. I took him to a place where they could look after him.

I want to get myself together, find a goal, because I don’t really have a goal. When you keep falling, it’s hard to get back up. When you’re on your own, it’s even harder. I always have a setback and have to get back up again. It’s not easy, but getting a bit of work helps. It’s lucky I’ve got the Big Issue job or I’d be a mess. It gets you out of the house, makes you feel good to do something. The staff are good here, they want to help and support you. It’s a good environment.

Kon sells The Big Issue at Adelaide Arcade and James Place in Rundle Mall, Adelaide

Interview by Aimee Knight
Photo by Jessica Clark