Posted by: Lisa Hill | October 27, 2016

The Big Issue – Helping people help themselves

I don’t read a lot of magazines, but there’s one that’s dear to my heart, and that’s The Big Issue.

As it says on their website:

The Big Issue magazine is a fortnightly, independent magazine that’s sold on the streets by homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people.

Vendors buy copies of the magazine for $3.50 and sell them for $7, keeping the difference. Since its inception in Australia in 1996, more than 10 million magazines have been sold, putting $23 million into the pockets of disadvantaged Australians.

The Big Issue is on sale all over Australia.  In Melbourne, I mostly see Big Issue vendors around Flinders Street Station and along Swanston St, but people who want to support them can also subscribe. 

But the Big Issue is more than a philanthropic venture, it’s also offers good reading.  Very good reading, with topical themes and terrific writers… The latest edition (#523, 21 Oct) is called ‘Oh America’, and I’m sure The Big Issue won’t mind me quoting their blurb:

the-big-issue-oh-americaThe world is watching with bated breath as the American public decides who is going to be the next President of the United States. As the polls swing between Trump and Clinton, the nation is becoming increasingly divided and the rest of us are just trying to understand what is going on. Addressing this in this edition we have: Charles Firth from The Chaser, giving a hilarious step-by-step on which candidate to support; a double-page cartoon from Big Issue cartoonist Zev Landes detailing his time following the Trump rallies in the US; and an analysis on how why gender is important in this election from Dr Leslie Cannold.

Also in this issue…

On Phar Lap’s 90th birthday Alan Attwood looks at how one horse captured the heart of a nation; Olivia Newton-John talks singing, adversity and John Travolta in Letter to My Younger Self; singer/songwriter Holly Throsby turns her skills to her very first novel; and in The Big Picture (formerly known as Roving Eye) incredible photographs detail the human faces behind the refugee crisis in Europe. Don’t forget, the 2017 Big Issue Calendar hits the streets on 28 October!

Fay from Sydney stars in this edition’s Vendor Profile. And in Streetsheet, we have contributions from Adam R, Rebecca and Nicole K in Sydney; and Kathy and Dee in Western Australia. We also have a painting of a Street Soccer session by Lynn R, a Street Soccer participant in Newcastle.

the-big-issue-fictionThe Annual Fiction Edition (#519, 26 Aug) included some authors who’ve been featured on this blog, others well-established in a writing career, and new talent in publication for the first time:

  • The Smell of Her Perfume by Claire Varley, author of The Bit in Between, see the review at Booklover Book Reviews
  • Hornets of the Heart by Donna Ward, editor, writer and the publisher who established Inkerman and Blunt
  • Transit Stop by Marion Howes, a short story writer making her debut in this issue
  • Animals of the Savannah by Tegan Bennett Daylight, author of Six Bedrooms see Sue’s review at Whispering Gums
  • Hungry for God by Jennifer Down, writer, editor and translator, author of Our Magic Hour, see the review at Readings
  • Leaving Leisureland by Miles Allison, author of Fever of Animals, see my review
  • The Pedigree Goat by Bridgitte Cummings, currently working on her first novel and making her publishing debut in Australia in this issue.  (She’s previously been published in the UK).
  • Unfinished Business by John Marsden, prolific author of YA novels notably Tomorrow When the War Began
  • Moth Sea Fog by Gregory Day, author of The Patron Saint of Eels, see my review
  • Polite Society by Ellena Savage, editor and writer of short stories, poems, and essays and nominated for various awards for non-fiction.
  • Big Things by Daniel Harper, writer of short stories
  • Baked Beans and Wisteria by Karenlee Thompson, author of 8 States of Catastrophe (see my review) and a regular contributor to this blog as a guest reviewer.


That’s a pretty impressive line-up, and no wonder being published in this edition is a highly sought-after coup for the writers!

Issue #522 focussed on Mental Health.  It has a picture of a cute dog on the cover because it features an article about the value of companion animals for people with mental illness.  It’s called ‘Always By My Side’ and it’s by Eliza Henry-Jones, author of In the Quiet.

The issue includes writing by

  • award-winning writer Fiona Wright; 
  • Melbourne based writer and broadcaster Melissa Cranenburgh;
  • aLetter to My Younger Self’ by Geoffrey Rush;
  • writing by Hannah Kent, and lots more.

The Big Issue is not only a magazine with a philanthropic purpose, it’s also an independent publisher offering opportunities for writers to submit stories other magazines and papers might not be able to do.   See their Contribute page for more information.



  1. I agree, it’s such a great incentive and always publishes quality articles. I think they’re currently looking for short story contributions again.


    • Hello, and thanks for your comment:)
      It seems to be a very professional outfit, because as you say, the quality is high.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the link Lisa. I’ve thought a few times about writing them up too, but have never got around to it. This is a lovely write-up.


  3. I love the Big Issue!


    • I like the way it tackles subjects the mainstream press doesn’t bother with.

      Liked by 1 person

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