Living and working conditions


Housing for the working class was dangerous unsanitary and over crowded. the size of the average family was much larger than it is today. The more children they had the more people there were to help out with household duties or to earn a wage outside of the home. The buildings were usually poorly built and made from cheap materials which, in some cases, proved to be hazardous to their occupants. They also often did not have sewerage and a standard water supply. Indoor, flushing toilets and even baths.


Poor housing conditions often led to dangerous health conditions for the working class. A lack of sanitation meant that infectious diseases such as whooping cough, tuberculosis and diphtheria, were rampant in the slums. It was these diseases which were the cause of death for many people, especially young children, until vaccines were introduced. The majority of those who died from diseases were members of the working class because they were often unable to afford medical fees. Even for those people who could afford to go to hospital, medical staff were not yet fully aware of how to prevent infection from spreading and sufficient technology had not yet been developed.


The steam engine was the most common form of power in the industrialised world in 1900, used both on land and in the sea. People and goods were transported by trains to get to certain places then transferred onto horse drawn carts to get to their destination.


Going to the beach and swimming was an entertaining activity and very popular due to its warm climate. It was hard for children to have their own free time because most kids were working and helping their families earn money but when they did most kids played tennis cricket, basketball,hockey, rounders and marbles. There were also perfmances such as songs dances comedy shows and circus acts.


In 1901 Australia formed the first federal government. Then in 1910the federal government introduced the Australian pound. This was our national currency. In 1907 a court ruled that there should be a minimum wage for unskilled workers. This meant that workers were entitled to be paid a fair wage for their work.

Wool growing was a source of money for farmers as well as wheat, dairy and other types of agriculture. The economy expanded because there was progress because of making disease resistant wheat and refrigeration for meat and vegetables.

People from overseas started to invest in Australia. This helped the economy so that more houses were built and more jobs were created.

However the investors did not get a good return for their investment and in the 1920’s there was a depression. Business went broke, people lost their jobs and the whole county was struggling. There was less demand for our products. It was a really bad time for our economy. The peak of the depression was 1931-1932. There was massive poverty and hardship.

Work and education

IN the early 1900’s working-class Australians had almost no time for anything other than work because their lives revolved around their jobs. Most men worked long hours and those that did not earn enough money to survive had no option but to send their wives and children out to work because a single wage was often not enough to provide for the entire family.

They usually had to work long hours, in poor conditions and received little pay in return. Awards, such as the four weeks annual leave that Australian workers are entitled to today did not exist then.

People of the working class had hard working conditions and poor living conditions. They had no time for fun because they had to work long hours simply to survive. They did not possess the funds to engage in leisure activities like sport or going to the theatre.

This meant that there were a lot of problems because of this difficult lifestyle. Some people got drunk, others gambled and got involved with crime. Gambling was also popular amongst the poor and low-income earners because it provided them with the opportunity to win a large amount of money in a very short time and it was easy to place bets. Some workers were known to spend much of their income on illegal bets made in hotels and alleyways.

Many poor children dropped out of school early so that they could get a job to support their families. They had very little education and did not have much discipline. Working-class youths (particularly, young men) had the reputation of going around in gangs and getting drunknoisy and angry. These youths were often referred to as 'larrikins,' with larrikin gangs once being a major part of working-class street culture