Women & Children on the Goldfields

By Mrs Pearce 5T

Introduction

In 1854 there were approximately 4000 women on the goldfields in Ballarat compared to about 12500 men. Most of these women were married.

Roles and Responsibilities of Women

1. Cooking

2. Singing and dancing for diggers

3. Some women were diggers

4. Shopkeepers

5. Caring for children

6. Make bread,butter and jams

*The image below is of a woman carrying out the responsibilty of caring for her child and panning for gold.

Health

Conditions were poor on the Goldfields . Many children died because of the foul muddy waters they had to drink.

People died from whooping cough, measles and other diseases because there were no hospitals. Cemetries were set up to bury the dead.

Women helped other women give birth because nurses and medicines were limited. Often, a male would play the role of 4 or 5 professionals. It was common that a doctor was also the communities barber and dentist.

Children and Education

Most children did not get an education. Often there was no schooling because there was no school built. Schools that were built were made from tents. The roof was made from a canvas material. Children who did go to school would usually only go for a few years. Children also moved schools often because parents kept moving to find richer goldfields. Education was not important during the gold rush and teachers were generally untrained. More boys went to school than girls as it was believed they were more important.
*As the goldfields developed so did the types of housing. Bark houses were built in place of tents. The image below is of one of the houses on the goldfields.
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