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Research Guides


Collections in Perth: A Guide to Commonwealth Government Records


10. Employment

A number of diverse – and in some cases occupationally specific – agencies were created by the Commonwealth to respond to employment issues. Many of these matters arose from pressing political or social events or concerns (eg inquiries into industrial relations activities or the need to coordinate labour during wartime) while others had more general functions.

The Agencies

The Department of Labour and National Service was created in 1940 with the broad function of determining manpower priorities and general labour policy. The department investigated labour supply and demand issues, attempted to ensure effective labour placements, trained personnel for employment in technical support units for the fighting forces and directed labour supply for production of munitions. It was also responsible for industrial relations and welfare and the overall development of Commonwealth plans for postwar reconstruction.

After World War II, the Department assumed administrative responsibility for the Commonwealth Migrant Hostels Act 1948 and the National Service Act 1951. After the Whitlam Government ended national conscription in 1972, the Department of Labour and National Service was renamed the Department of Labour.

The Stevedoring Industry Commission was set up during World War II to coordinate the use of labour in stevedoring operations and to protect the wharves against damage from enemy attacks. The commission also ensured that adequate provision was made to protect waterside workers against injury. Accordingly, the Fremantle Waterside Employment Committee was set up on 11 June 1942. Its membership comprised employer and employee representatives and an independent chairman. Its role was to determine and register the number of men required to work at each Western Australian port. In 1949 the Fremantle Waterside Employment Committee was replaced by the Stevedoring Industry Board, an agency concerned more with administrative matters than its predecessor.

The expansion of defence industries in 1939 and 1940 resulted in a desperate need for more and better-trained tradespeople, which led to the creation of agencies responsible for trade deregulation and the revision of training methods. The locally based trade committees issued certificates in the engineering, boilermaking, blacksmithing, electrical, sheetmetal and boot trades. Specially trained workers were enlisted into the skilled workforce as 'added tradesmen'.

Wartime administration and personnel records of other labour-related agencies (eg the Civil Construction Corps and the Civil Aliens Corps) are also held in the Perth Office of the National Archives.

Among the agencies established after World War II was the Higher Appointments Office, a specialist unit that assisted employers and job seekers in the rapidly developing professional labour market. In 1967 its name was changed to the Professional Employment Office. The following list includes a selection of agencies involved with employment matters.

  • 1940–45: State Board of Area Management, Department of Munitions, WA (CA 6845)
  • 1941: Western Australian War Industries Committee (CA 475)
  • 1942-45: Allied Works Council, WA Office (CA 8132)
  • 1942–49: Waterside Employment Committee, Fremantle, WA (CA 1765)
  • 1942–49: Waterside Employment Committee, Geraldton, WA (CA 1766)
  • 1943–72: Department of Labour and National Service, Branch Office, WA (CA 1761)
  • 1946–81: Higher Appointments Office (from 1967, the Professional Employment Office), WA (CA 5649)
  • 1946–: Local Trades Committee, WA (CA 3643)
  • 1949–56: Australian Stevedoring Industry Board Representative, Fremantle (including Esperance), WA (CA 1763)
  • 1956–77: Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, Fremantle, WA (CA 1762)

The Records

PERSONAL HISTORY CARDS OF STAFF EMPLOYED IN MUNITIONS FACTORIES, WA, ALPHABETICAL ORDER, 1940–45
Perth
This series contains the personal history cards of staff employed in munitions factories in WA during World War II. The details recorded include date of commencement, date of birth, address, marital status, rates of pay, sickness or other leave and date ceased duty.
Series: K1055
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: 1940–45: State Board of Area Management, Department of Munitions, WA (CA 6845)
MINUTES OF MEETINGS OF BOARD OF AREA MANAGEMENT, 1940–45
Perth
This series contains minutes for all meetings held by the Board of Area Management, WA.
Series: PP70/1
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: 1940–45: State Board of Area Management, Department of Munitions, WA (CA 6845)
HISTORY OF MUNITIONS EFFORT, BOARD OF AREA MANAGEMENT, WA, 1940–45
Perth
This series consists of a report on the history of the effort made by the Board of Area Management, Department of Munitions, WA. It details the formation of the Board of Area Management, provides a survey of the position initially confronting the board and reviews yearly operations, with a final review of the position at 31 August 1945 and an epilogue.
Series: PP70/2
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1940–45: State Board of Area Management, Department of Munitions, WA (CA 6845)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, UNREGISTERED, 1941–67
Perth
This series consists of a small number of unregistered correspondence files originally created by the Department of Munitions during and after World War II. Topics covered include the history of the manufacture of munitions in WA and the staffing and organisation of the WA branch of the department.
Series: PP548/2
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1941–45: State Board of Area Management, Department of Munitions, WA (CA 6845)
Wartime history of munitions manufacturing in WA, 1941–48 PP548/2, 2
Wartime annual reports – Department of Supply – munitions,1941–44 PP548/2, 1
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES (IMPOSED), 1942–45
Perth
This series consists of general correspondence files on the operations of the Allied Works Council, WA Office, which existed from 1942 to 1945.
Series: K1192
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: 1942–45: Allied Works Council, WA Office (CA 8132)
REGISTER OF MEMBERS OF CIVIL CONSTRUCTIONAL CORPS, WA, 1942–45
Perth
This series contains a register of details about members of the Civil Constructional Corps in WA.
Series: K1193
Quantity: 0.45 metres
Recorded by: 1942–45: Allied Works Council, WA Office (CA 8132)
NOMINAL INDEX CARDS, CIVIL CONSTRUCTIONAL CORPS, ALPHABETICAL SERIES, 1942–45
Perth
This series contains the index cards of people called up to enrol for service in the Civil Constructional Corps in WA. Details include the given names and surnames of people who actually served in the corps and of those who were exempted from serving. Other information includes the dates called for enrolment, lodgements of appeals, grounds for appeals, temporary exemptions granted, CW numbers, non-exemptions and remarks. The reverse of the cards bears the heading 'Record of Jobs to which Directed', with dates and particulars.
Series: K1195
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: 1942–45: Allied Works Council, WA Office (CA 8132)
PERSONAL RECORD CARDS, CIVIL CONSTRUCTIONAL CORPS, ALPHABETICAL SERIES, 1942–45
Perth
This series consists of the personal record cards of people enrolled for service in the Civil Constructional Corps in WA.
Series: K1195
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: 1942–45: Allied Works Council, WA Office (CA 8132)
REGISTER OF MEMBERS OF CIVIL ALIEN CORPS, WA, 1942–45
Perth
This series consists of a register of details about members of the Civil Alien Corps in WA.
Series: K1196
Quantity: 0.54 metres
Recorded by: 1942–45: Allied Works Council, WA Office (CA 8132)
NOMINAL INDEX CARDS, CIVIL ALIEN CORPS, ALPHABETICAL SERIES, 1942–45
Perth
This series contains the name index cards of people called up to enrol in the Civil Alien Corps in WA.
Series: K1197
Quantity: 0.36 metres
Recorded by: 1942–45: Allied Works Council, WA Office (CA 8132)
ALIENS' REGISTER CARDS, CIVIL ALIEN CORPS, ALPHABETICAL SERIES, 1942–45
Perth
This series contains the personal record cards of people enrolled for service in the Civil Alien Corps in WA.
Series: K1198
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: 1942–45: Allied Works Council, WA Office (CA 8132)
MEMBERS' EMPLOYMENT RECORD CARDS, CIVIL ALIEN CORPS, ALPHABETICAL SERIES, 1942–45
Perth
This series contains the personal record cards of people enrolled for service in the Civil Alien Corps in WA.
Series: K1199
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1942–45: Allied Works Council, WA Office (CA 8132)
PHOTOGRAPH OF MEMBERS OF BOARD OF AREA MANAGEMENT, MINISTRY OF MUNITIONS, WA, 1945
Perth
This series consists of a photograph of the nine members of the Board of Area Management, Ministry of Munitions, WA. It was taken in January 1945 and depicts Messrs Ramm, Hood, Mills, Dumas, Tomlinson, Ellis, Brisbane, Law and Trainer. The reverse of the photograph bears the caption, 'Diesel Railcars Being Loaded On Christen Smith Fremantle – July 1958'.
Series: K712
Quantity: 0.36 metres
Recorded by: 1945: State Board of Area Management, Department of Munitions, WA (CA 6845)
PERSONAL HISTORY CARDS OF FULL-TIME TRAINEES UNDER THE COMMONWEALTH RECONSTRUCTION TRAINING SCHEME, 1945–54
Perth
This series contains cards recording the personal histories of all full-time trainees under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme (CRTS).
Series: PP39/1
Quantity: 4 metres
Recorded by: 1945–54: Deputy Commissioner of Repatriation, WA (CA 880)
PERSONAL HISTORY CARDS OF PART-TIME TRAINEES UNDER THE COMMONWEALTH RECONSTRUCTION TRAINING SCHEME, 1945–54
Perth
This series contains cards recording the personal histories of all part-time trainees under the CRTS.
Series: PP39/2
Quantity: 4 metres
Recorded by: 1945–54: Deputy Commissioner of Repatriation, WA (CA 880)
MINUTES OF MEETINGS OF LOCAL TRADES COMMITTEES AND CENTRAL TRADES COMMITTEES, 1946–60
Perth
Series: PT173/4
Quantity: 0.72 metres
Recorded by: 1946–60: Department of Labour and National Service, Branch Office, WA (CA 1761)
MONTHLY REPORTS OF EMPLOYMENT OFFICES, FORM ES STATS 1 (PAGE 1), CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, 1946–
Perth
This series contains statistical returns from Divisional Employment Offices throughout WA. The returns provide statistical information on monthly applications, referrals and placements. They also provide information about vacancies, attendances, callers, determinations on unemployment and other benefits and variations in items of business. The details were analysed on the basis of age and gender, with variations being noted and commented on.
Series: K212
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: 1946–72: Department of Labour and National Service, Branch Office, WA (CA 1761)
GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1946–75
Perth
This series contains files dealing with policy, precedent, advisory and operational topics. Other matters dealt with include arbitration, Aboriginal employment, rehabilitation, industrial law and disputes, strike and employment statistics, productivity, safety, and female employment.
Series: PP578/1
Quantity: 4 metres
Recorded by: 1946–72: Department of Labour and National Service, Branch Office, WA (CA 1761)
Equal pay case, 1969 PP578/1, 1969/255
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1950–77
Perth
This series contains files dealing with conciliation and arbitration, the functioning of industrial machinery and statutory provisions and measures directed towards maintaining industrial peace. Other topics dealt with include the coordination of industrial matters affecting Commonwealth agencies, industrial information and advisory services, and manpower development and training.
Series: PP651/1
Quantity: 2 metres
Recorded by: 1950–72: Department of Labour and National Service, Branch Office, WA (CA 1761)
Entry to Australia of contract and bonded workers – policy and procedure, 1965–75 PP651/1, 1973/126
LABOUR MARKET REPORTS ON EMPLOYMENT, CHRONOLOGICAL SERIES, 1950–
Perth
This series contains detailed reports on employment in WA. Topics covered include the demand for labour, unemployment, changes in employment and general comments.
Series: K198
Quantity: 2 metres
Recorded by: 1950–72: Department of Labour and National Service, Branch Office, WA (CA 1761)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1951–77
Perth
This series contains correspondence about a range of departmental activities in WA, including vocational training schemes, careers guidance work and Aboriginal and immigrant employment (including statistics). It also includes surveys of professions, the promotion of productivity (eg Productivity Promotion Council of Australia matters), employment statistics, periodic reports to central office and internal departmental matters.
Series: PP706/1
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: 1951–72: Department of Labour and National Service, Branch Office, WA (CA 1761)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1955–64
Perth
This series consists of correspondence files on policy matters, operational activities, industrial research, demography and production
Series: PP396/1
Quantity: 7.38 metres
Recorded by: 1955–64: Department of Labour and National Service, Branch Office, WA (CA 1761)
Central office reports of survey of manufacturers' employment expectations, 1963 PP396/1, 1963/569
Schools – career nights, 1963–65 PP396/1, 1963/555
Labour requirements for the WA timber industry, 1964–68 PP396/1, 1963/616
MONTHLY REPORTS ON EMPLOYMENT SITUATION, ALPHABETICAL ORDER BY DIVISIONAL EMPLOYMENT OFFICE, 1965–
Perth
This series contains monthly reports on returns from Divisional Employment Offices throughout WA. These reports provide statistical information on changes and trends in employment and summaries about industry conditions.
Series: K206
Quantity: 3 metres
Recorded by: 1965–72: Department of Labour and National Service, Branch Office, WA (CA 1761)

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