Behind the scenes of The Big Issue fortnightly launches at Australia Post

Every fortnight, The Big Issue vendors gather in Australia Post’s Melbourne support office to launch the magazine’s next edition. We chatted to the vendors for a special behind the scenes glimpse into The Big Issue.

Mark, a Big Issue vendor, gets ready for the latest magazine launch at Australia Post’s Melbourne support office.

As Melbourne wakes and has their morning coffee, vendors are getting ready to sell a new edition of The Big Issue magazine.

The Big Issue creates work opportunities for people experiencing homelessness, marginalisation and disadvantage. They are best known for their magazine: a fortnightly, independent magazine sold on the streets by men and women who are working to improve their lives. 

The concept is simple: vendors buy copies of The Big Issue for $4.50 and sell them for $9, earning a meaningful income. Since their Melbourne launch in 1996, over 14 million magazines have been sold, generating $35 million in income for vendors.

In addition to earning an income, vendors are able to build their confidence and create connections with the local community and support networks. “My favourite thing about being a Big Issue vendor is the fact that I’m an independent person, I can support myself,” says Mark, who sells the magazine in Melbourne.

Fortnightly launches that focus on connection 

Every fortnight, the vendors gather at Australia Post’s Melbourne support office to hear all about the new edition of the magazine, so they’re equipped to share the highlights with their customers.

By hosting the launches, Australia Post provides a safe and central location where the vendors can connect with each other and the support team over breakfast and catch up on local news.

One vendor, Lionel, says the fortnightly launches are a great way to catch up with the other vendors. “It’s good to know you’re out there (selling) with the guys you meet at breakfast. It gives you the stamina and shows you that we’re still going strong,” he says. “I like meeting people and meeting the other vendors. Everyone’s got a real good sense of humour. When everyone’s together we’re like a big happy group, we’re happy to see each other.”

Mark, who has been selling The Big Issue for six years, adds, “The launch events are really good because they give me an idea of what’s in the magazine. I can hear other vendors talk about what they’re planning to do. I love listening to what’s in the new magazine and how I can promote it.” 

And it’s this sense of connection that Mark really values. “Having the breakfasts are really rewarding for me. I’ve known the staff for six years. And when you’ve got no family, they become your family.”

Our longest-standing partner: How Australia Post supports The Big Issue

Australia Post has partnered with The Big Issue for more than 26 years. We’re proud to play an important role in the distribution of the magazine and support The Big Issue through volunteering, workplace giving, social procurement and subscriptions.

Tanny Mangos, Executive General Manager Community, Sustainability & Stakeholder Engagement at Australia Post, says, “Promoting community connection and resilience is one of our key priorities at Australia Post. We’re proud to not only give The Big Issue a space in our offices to come together and feel connected, but also offer a number of our Post Offices as magazine collection points. Vendors can pop in to purchase their magazines at these designated outlets before heading out to their ‘pitches’ to sell them. We’re pleased to support them in this way as they earn income from meaningful work.”

How can you get involved? Buy The Big Issue, of course! 

There are more than 800 vendors working around the country, with a wide range of experiences leading them to The Big Issue. Every vendor has a different story, but all are looking to improve their lives and engage meaningfully with the community.

Lionel explains that being a vendor is about more than an income. “I try to have a good day even if I don’t make sales,” he says. “When I sit there selling, people tell me it’s a great thing you’re doing thing to get a bob or two for yourself, and as a vendor I think that’s one of the important things: the encouragement from people. Money isn’t everything but you being there is important.”

For vendor Phil, this job is a great opportunity to connect with a whole range of different people. “I like meeting different people, relaxing, having a chit chat, having fun with the customers and doggy pats on the weekend. I look forward to catching up with people,” he says.

The next time you walk by your local Big Issue vendor, say hello and buy a magazine in support of some of our most vulnerable Australians. 

Support The Big Issue by subscribing via the Australia Post online Shop