My life is an open book, what you see is what you get – I’m an easygoing Capricorn. I was born in Narembeen, not far from Merredin. Dad’s work meant our family moved a lot, and we lived all over the wheatbelt and the goldfields. When I was five, I survived spinal meningitis. I reckon that made me grow up a bit of a fighter. Life has thrown a few things my way, but I’ve always battled through. I grew up with three sisters and a younger brother. Sadly, my brother passed away about 18 years ago.

School was a bit of a mixed bag. I liked going, and I love learning things, but I’m more of a doer and I enjoy practical classes more than theory. I was good at cooking and enjoyed doing science experiments. If you show me something once, I can usually pick it up.

Since school, I bounced around jobs, working on farms, in shearing sheds, panel beating, building and demolition – I’m a bit of a jack of all trades. I have done loads of different courses to improve my chances of employment. Working hard has never scared me.

One of the best things my parents taught me is that no matter who someone is, or where they come from, everybody deserves respect. No-one is better than anybody else. I also try and follow the example set by my grandfather – always be a gentleman.

My partner and I got married in 2005 and, a year later, our beautiful daughter was born. Unfortunately, my wife died before our daughter’s third birthday. Not long after my wife passed away, I lost my job, and that led to my daughter going to foster care and me spending some time on the streets.

One day I was walking around looking for cigarettes and money and someone told me about The Big Issue. I got directions to the office and headed straight over to sign up. That was over 10 years ago. Since then, The Big Issue has been great for me when I’m in between other jobs. I just want to keep meeting new people and being a positive member of the community.

My daughter and I remain close, we make sure to catch up every few weeks. She recently turned 16 – we celebrated by going out for a special dinner, which was great fun.

When I’m not working, I love listening to music, watching TV or reading comics. My favourite band is AC/DC and, of course, my favourite singer is Bon Scott.

I like to live by my own personal mantra: some days are diamonds, some days are dust. I get up every morning and do what I must. Right now, I’m on the lookout for a new place to live – not the easiest thing to find at the moment. Moving is a bit of a pain, but having lived pretty much all over the bottom half of WA, at least I know how to pack well.

Rick sells The Big Issue at East Perth IGA, Royal Street

Interview by Chad Hedley
Photo by Ross Swanborough

Published in ed#676