Living and working conditions
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