Celebrating Social Enterprise : 15 Years of the Big Issue
20 June 2011 at 4:57 pm
One of Australia’s most well-known social enterprises has celebrated its 15th anniversary, with the street newspaper The Big Issue celebrating the milestone with a party in Melbourne’s Federation Square.
The Big Issue was launched in Australia on the steps of Melbourne’s Flinders Street Stations in June 1996, based on the idea launched in the UK by John Bird and Gordon Riddick five years earlier.
The Big Issue offers homeless and marginalised people the change to earn an income by selling The Big Issue magazine, which they buy for $2.50 and sell for $5, keeping the profit.
Since 1996 about 3500 people across Australia have been recruited and trained as vendors, and today there are more than 450 vendors nationally, including 138 in Victoria.
During the last 15 years, brightly clad street vendors in Australian cities have sold more than six million magazines, earning $13.2 million in income.
The Not for Profit social enterprise has to include three other programs: The Community Street Soccer Program, The Big Issue Classroom and The Big Issue Women’s Subscription Enterprise. All provide opportunities for homeless and marginalised people to positively change their lives.
The Melbourne celebrations included musicians Wes Carr and Charles Jenkins, Orchestra Victoria, members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Ray White Real Estate auctioneers pairing up with The Big Issues vendors for a sales frenzy.