Big day out for The Big Issue

1 December 2023

Watch a snapshot from the Parliament House event celebrating the community service achievements of The Big Issue.

The first edition of The Big Issue went on sale on the steps of Flinders Street Station in 1996, with the modest ambition of making a difference to the lives of some of Melbourne’s homeless population.

Twenty-seven years later the magazine celebrated its 700th edition at Parliament House this week. 

But the magazine is just one aspect of the long-running social enterprise, which has gone national and diversified into a range of other activities, including the Women’s Workforce, The Big Issue Classroom and the Community Street Soccer Program. 

The Big Issue Board Chair Sonya Clancy explained one of the reasons the program broadened its activities beyond just selling magazines. 

‘There are a number of reasons that women couldn't sell a magazine on the street and earn an income, and we had to come up with a way that was a safe place for them to earn an award income and feel safe,’ she said. 

The Big Issue Board Chair Sonya Clancy thanked the Victorian Parliament for its recognition and support.

Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Maree Edwards said the social enterprise had a ‘big name and a big impact’. 

‘Today we're celebrating the work of an organisation that for the past 27 years has brought hope, opportunity and pride to so many people,’ she said. 

Speaker Maree Edwards welcomed The Big Issue community to Parliament House.

A recent social impact report completed for The Big Issue found that participants in its programs have earned a total of $40 million between them since the organisation’s inception. 

It surveyed members of The Big Issue community and found taking part in the programs had helped the vast majority to take better care of themselves, improve their self-confidence, make new friends, eat better food, learn new skills and reduce their need for support from social services or charity. 

Cartoonist and illustrator Andrew Weldon created a cartoon for the event.

President of the Legislative Council Shaun Leane urged the many MPs in the audience to support the organisation by picking up some of The Big Issue’s famous calendars. 

‘I'd encourage all members if you can purchase a number of calendars and give them out as gifts. Any other ways that we can support them do their fantastic work, I'm sure we all will,’ he said. 

Legislative Council President Shaun Leane led a round of applause for The Big Issue as it celebrates the 700th edition of its magazine.

The Big Issue 2024 Calendar is available from vendors around the country for $20, with vendors earning $12 for every calendar sold. 

MPs and parliamentary staff mingled with the social enterprise's team members at the event.