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Research Guides

Working for the Dole: Commonwealth Relief during the Great Depression

1 Responsibility for Unemployment Relief

Two days before the New York Stock Exchange crash of 24 October 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression, a Federal Labor Government under the leadership of J H Scullin, having achieved a landslide victory over the National-Country Party coalition, took office in Canberra. The new Government had gained 15 seats and held an overall majority of 17 in the House of Representatives. The situation in the Senate was less promising – only seven of the 36 senators belonged to the Labor side. Despite facing a hostile Upper House, the new Government did not call a double dissolution of Parliament. Frank Anstey, who served as a Federal Labor Minister until March 1931, described the situation succinctly in his memoirs. 'We had no power', he recalled, '…from the first moment of our existence we were only the stuffed effigy of a government.'1

In a political biography of J H Scullin, John Robertson pointed out that the new Prime Minister had inherited a situation in which:

The prices for wool and wheat were low and still falling, a drought had caused a fall in the production of both these commodities, the Government had a large accumulated deficit, unemployment was high and increasing, an adverse balance of trade was causing heavy shipments of gold, the price of Australian bonds on the London market was declining, there was a general stringency in the British financial market, and Australian Governments had unusually heavy loan maturities due in the following year.2

A week after it took office, the Government was challenged to explain its unemployment policy, but Senator Daly, Leader of the Government in the Senate, could only state:

The Government has given and is still giving most serious consideration to the question of unemployment. Whatever measures can be taken to alleviate the present position or minimize the effects of unemployment or prevent Australia from getting further into the state of chaos which undoubtedly obtained recently, will be taken by the Government at the earliest possible moment.3

During the lead up to Great Depression, however, the banks had begun to regulate the nation's economic condition in great detail, and consequently any intrusion on their activities by the Government was seen as a threat to stability. The prevailing economic dictum was that at all costs inflation had to be avoided and, with a minority in the Senate, the new Labor Government's economic policy was effectively dictated by the banks.

Neither employment nor credit could be 'created', and the Government was committed to the established doctrine of 'good business practice' – of adherence to the tenets of orthodox finance, of balanced budgets, of 'self-help', of protectionism, and of waiting stoically until the recovery of prices for primary produce reactivated overseas markets, re-established Australia's credit rating and restored the standard of living to the level it had been prior to the economic crash. As Boris Schedvin observed in his study of Australia during the Great Depression:

The central objective of economic policy in 1930 was in essence extremely simple – the preservation of external and internal national solvency. It is symptomatic of the state of mind of policy makers that this was accorded a higher order of priority than the prevention of mass unemployment.4

No Federal Government had developed a centralised means of delivering unemployment relief before the Great Depression. While Labor Party ideology favoured unemployment insurance as a right, only Queensland had a modest contributory scheme. Instead extensive public works programs funded by overseas loans were commonly used by the States to alleviate unemployment. Other than that, relief for the destitute took the form of charity, with monetary assistance and very basic food rations being provided through a patchwork of agencies and private benevolent organisations in which the participation of Government was incidental.

Throughout the 1920s the unemployment level had been consistently high at around 8%. In 1927, however, it began to increase steadily and the advent of the Great Depression saw it soar to an unprecedented national level for which such ad hoc relief arrangements for the destitute were patently inadequate. At the same time it was no longer feasible to raise external loans to facilitate public works.

On 10 December 1929 the Federal Government announced that £1 000 000 was to be allocated to the States for the provision of relief for the unemployed. Although this sum was a portion of funds set aside by the Commonwealth for roadworks by the States under the Federal Aid Roads Agreement, the unemployment situation necessitated the immediate use of the money. New South Wales received £276 000; Victoria, £180 000; Queensland, £188 000; South Australia, £114 000; Western Australia, £192 000; and Tasmania, £50 000. The Prime Minister, however, made it clear that responsibility for the welfare of the unemployed rested with the States:

Although the funds are being provided by the Commonwealth, the actual disbursement of these moneys is a matter for the States and the proposals for road works must therefore emanate from the State authorities... In some States, though these additional moneys will be actually expended on road work, they may not wholly result in an increased programme beyond that already contemplated. The effect, however, will be to release the funds of the States to relieve unemployment in other directions, and the intention of the Commonwealth Government will thus be carried out. This is a matter for the States to arrange in the best interests of the unemployed.5

But the number of workless continued to grow. By the end of 1929, approximately 5 000 people were unemployed in the Prime Minister's own electorate of Yarra, some of whom had been out of work for two years.

Unemployment relief

It was with qualified optimism that in opening a conference of Commonwealth ministers and State premiers on 20 February 1930, the Prime Minister, James Henry Scullin, said:

We meet in Canberra at a difficult time, and I hope that with the knowledge we possess of the present difficulties, we shall be guided in our discussions by a very real sense of the nation's well being. If the present economic and financial outlook of Australia is such as to cause some temporary misgivings, at least we can take heart in the knowledge that, fundamentally, the position of the Commonwealth is quite sound. We are at present in the trough of a wave of financial depression.6

The keynote of the conference was economy and accordingly its attendees decided that Australia's rate of expenditure from loan funds would be slashed and the country would endeavour to raise loans internally rather than on overseas markets.

As Leader of the Federal Labor Party, the Prime Minister was bombarded with letters from sectional interests throughout the nation pleading for immediate monetary and material relief for the unemployed. The Government did provide some direct material relief in the form of a free issue of coal to the destitute in Newcastle, NSW, which was surplus to the requirements of the Royal Australia Navy. While the Government refused to allow the homeless to shelter in Defence establishments, it did issue quantities of surplus Australian Army uniforms (dyed from the original khaki in a manner that rendered their wearers conspicuous) and worn-out boots.

Other than that, applicants were informed that although the Commonwealth Government was providing funds to State Governments for the relief of unemployment, the distribution of those funds was strictly a State responsibility. As the Prime Minister informed Parliament on 25 June 1930:

…the question of sustenance is a matter for the State Governments, and the Commonwealth Government has no information that would enable it to determine whether adequate provision is being made.7

Given that any relief work provided by the States usually took the form of heavy manual labour, the responses of the premiers to the plight of unemployed women were equally negative.

In July 1930 the Prime Minister announced that in addition to the December 1929 allocation of £1 000 000 already made from the Federal Aid Roads Agreement for the provision of relief work for the unemployed, a further Commonwealth grant of £1 000 000 would be made to the States. The money was to be allotted on a population basis and State premiers would be required to submit detailed schedules of proposed works to the Commonwealth Government. Approval would be granted only to those works that could provide a financial return sufficient to meet associated interest charges and statutory sinking fund contributions. The Commonwealth Government also stipulated that its grant should be used only to provide work for the relief of those already unemployed and that award rates were to be paid to those engaged.

At a meeting in August 1930 State premiers agreed that a considerable proportion of that £1 000 000 should be re-allocated to South Australia in an effort to ameliorate that State's particularly dire economic circumstances. A further Commonwealth grant of £500 000 to the States was specifically granted to provide work for the unemployed prior to Christmas, but this was announced only a week before it was to be paid.

On 17 December 1930, the Acting Prime Minister, J E Fenton, stated in Parliament that no conditions would apply to the rate of pay earned by relief workers. Subsequently, however,the States were advised by the Commonwealth Government that award rates of pay were mandatory in the case of relief workers. The ensuing correspondence between the Prime Minister, premiers, municipalities, unions and individuals provides an insight into the inequities and problems that were encountered.

State and local authorities had little time to organise relief works and the Commonwealth's insistence on award rates caused difficulties. Moreover, some municipal authorities used their allocation of funds to retain staff who would otherwise have been retrenched rather than to provide work for those already unemployed.

This series contains correspondence records about the activities of both the British Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy. The series began in 1883 (from Sydney Station, Port of Sydney) and extended to Command Eastern Australia Area in 1957. These records deal with the management of civilian and service establishments, and include material about ships, dockyards, depots, staff management, discipline, navigation, and the establishment and erection of various depots.
Series: SP339/1
Quantity: 13.71 metres
Recorded by: 1926–38 Captain Superintendent, Sydney, and Captain-in-Charge, New South Wales (CA 4338); 1938–42 Captain-in-Charge (from 1939, Commodore in Charge), HM Australian Naval Establishments, Sydney (CA 4339)
Unemployment relief tax, 1930–41 SP339/1, 138/2/48
Files in this series contain general papers, correspondence and Hansard extracts. They deal with subjects that came to the attention of the Prime Minister of the day, particularly those concerned with unemployment relief. Matters such as the increasing number of unemployed, stringency in Government spending and relief work are dealt with.
Series: A458
Quantity: 50 metres
Recorded by: 1923–34 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Unemployed relief – drill halls and shelters for unemployed, 1923–32 A458, AC502/3
Unemployment relief – women, 1930–31
This item documents the routine denial of relief work for women and includes correspondence from individuals and from the Women's Workers Union and the Women's Vanguard (Labor Women) about the necessity to provide relief work for single and middle-aged women who were supporting themselves. It includes some details about the responses of the various State Governments to this issue.
A458, AL502/3
Unemployment relief – £1 000 000 grant to States, 1930–32
This item deals with a Commonwealth grant of £1 000 000 for the relief of unemployment, which was distributed to the States on a population basis.

It also contains detailed lists of works, proposed as suitable undertakings for relief workers, submitted by the States for approval by the Commonwealth Government; urgent claims on the Commonwealth for payment as individual works were completed; and letters to the Prime Minister from State premiers vigorously denying local allegations of nepotism and delay in the allocation of funds for, and the organisation of, relief work.

Details of the redistribution of the Commonwealth Government's grant of £1 000 000 to the States for the relief of unemployment as agreed at the Premiers' Conference in August 1930 can also be found in this file.

A458, AJ502/3
Unemployment in Victoria – conferences convened by Premier, 1930–32
This item contains an invitation to a conference on unemployment convened by the Premier of Victoria in 1930.
A458, AM502/3
Unemployment relief – £500 000 grant to States, 1930–32
This item includes an admission from the Acting Prime Minister, J E Fenton, in Parliament that the Commonwealth Government could afford to provide only comparatively slight relief to the unemployed. The pre-Christmas grant of £500 000, which was to be disbursed through the State Governments and local authorities, was conditional on work being provided for the unemployed. The extract includes Fenton's response when asked whether the rate of wages to be paid had any attached conditions – he said, 'No.'
A458, AN502/3
Unemployment relief – provision of money by banks for public works, 1931–32
This item describes the disbursement of a Commonwealth grant of £500 000 to the States to provide relief work for the unemployed during the Christmas period. It also contains correspondence between the Acting Prime Minister, J E Fenton, and some State premiers about the practicalities of disbursing the grant in the way stipulated by the Commonwealth Government.

The file also contains letters from various State municipalities to the Acting Prime Minister expressing gratitude for their allocation of funds. It was not possible, however, to please everyone and the file includes a letter from the President of the Manilla Branch of the Australian Labor Party in which he complains that although Tamworth, a neighbouring town, received £500, Manilla was excluded from the grant and was unable to provide relief for its citizens over Christmas.

A458, AS502/3
Winter relief – unemployed soldiers, 1933 A458, BB230/16
Postal concessions for unemployed, 1932–33 A458, BG502/3
Unemployment relief – general – part 1, 1923–30
This item documents the growing concern of unions, members of the public and the Government about the increasing level of unemployment, the lack of relief for the unemployed, the need for greater stringency in Government spending and the abuse of relief funds by some authorities. A Hansard extract in the file contains an unequivocal statement by the Prime Minister that State Governments were responsible for the welfare of the unemployed.

The file also includes a letter from the Town Clerk of Walcha to the Prime Minister requesting a grant of £400 from the Federal Aid Roads Agreement to be used for roadwork for the relief of unemployed residents of that town and its surrounding districts; numerous suggestions from individuals for schemes to provide work for the unemployed; and a reply by the Secretary of the Postmaster-General's Department to a representation made by the Prime Minister's Department that Commonwealth unemployment relief funds should be used to extend the telecommunications network.

A458, C502/3 part 1
£500 000 unemployment relief grant to States – representations regarding method of distribution of amount allocated to Queensland, 1930–31
Instead of being used to provide relief work for the unemployed prior to Christmas, Queensland's share of the £500 000 unemployment relief grant was actually spent retaining local council employees who would otherwise have been retrenched. In this case, the Commonwealth Government's intention was clearly thwarted.
A458, D502/6
Unemployed migrants – requests for repatriation, part 1, 1926–31 A458, Q154/19
Unemployed relief grant, 1932 – preference for Australian materials, 1932–33 A458, P502/8
This series contains general correspondence files for the Central Administration of Postmaster-General's Department. It records matters relevant to the entire department rather than individual State branches. It includes material from State postal departments which came under the control of the Commonwealth after Federation.
Series: MP273/1
Quantity: 49.14 metres
Recorded by: 1901–39 Postmaster-General's Department, Central Administration (CA 9)
Leave on furlough where the provision of additional assistance for relief is not involved, 1931 MP273/1, 1931/5030
This series, created by the National Archives of Australia (formerly the Australian Archives), contains Cabinet papers, submissions and other material brought before Cabinet copied from departmental files.

Until 1925 no regular method of recording Cabinet decisions and associated documentation existed, and no systematic recording of decisions made by, or submissions put to, Cabinet took place until 1938. The Cabinet records created between 1925 and 1940 are incomplete, and A6006 effectively fills in the gaps in the collection.

The following items contain papers and submissions for Cabinet meetings held between 1929 and 1932, the duration of the Scullin Ministry. Details of the files they are copied from are provided at the foot of the entries for each paper.

Series: A6006
Quantity: 9.18 metres
Recorded by: 1976–81 Australian Archives, Central Office (CA 1720); 1981–94 Australian Archives, ACT Regional Office (CA 3196); 1994 National Archives of Australia, National Office (CA 7970)
Preference in employment (returned soldiers), 1930
This is a paper signed by J A Lyons, Minister for Works, which states in part:

Cabinet decided that preference in employment is to be given to Returned Soldiers, in accordance with the practice adopted in pursuance of the Provisions of the Public Service Act in relation to employment under that Act, but within that preference, employment is to be given firstly to Returned Soldiers who are Unionists.

A6006, 1930/02/05
C.P.S. Arbitration Awards - Restriction of Benefits to Union Members. A461, G3/1/8 part 2 (Parent item)
Unemployment – Central Australia, 1930
This folder contains a submission by the Minister for Home Affairs requesting that funds be provided for the relief of the unemployed in Central Australia.
A6006, 1930/10/02
Unemployment in Central Australia A1, 1934/3577 (Parent item)
Canberra unemployed, 1930 A6006, 1930/12/16
Unemployment in Canberra Establishment of a Camp, and supply of rations for unemployed. A1, 1930/5912 (Parent item)
Unemployment in Canberra, 1930
This is a submission made to Cabinet by the Minister for Home Affairs, proposing to use the Parkes Barracks in Canberra to accommodate 80 of Canberra's 152 unemployed single men. The submission indicated that if these men were provided with the scale of relief rations adopted in New South Wales, the cost for food per man would be between 7/- and 8/- per week.
A6006, 1930/12/31
Travelling Unemployed in Canberra A1, 1930/5912 part 1 (Parent item)
Travelling unemployed in Canberra, 1931 A6006, 1931/01/31
Road Construction, Federal Capital Territory 1931 A6006, 1931/02/02
Road Construction FCT [Federal Capital Territory] A1, 1931/3864 (Parent item)
This series contains general correspondence files on matters that came to the attention of the Prime Minister of the day.
Series: A461
Quantity: 143.82
Recorded by: 1934–35 Department of External Affairs [II], Central Office (CA 18); 1934–50 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Federal coal for relief of unemployed, part 2, 1931–34 A461, D321/1/1 part 2
Federal coal for relief of unemployed, part 3, 1934–39 A461, D321/1/1 part 3
Sales tax – materials purchased for unemployed relief work, 1932–33 A461, C344/4/6
Unemployment relief – Federal Capital Territory, 1930–34
This item contains a breakdown of the allocation of funds to, and the numbers of men employed in, each State. No provision for Commonwealth public works was made for the Federal Capital Territory and so no unemployed men were given work there. The item goes on to describe a deputation comprising representatives from community organisations, unions and individual citizens expressing their concerns and pointing out the disproportionately high cost of living in Canberra when compared with Melbourne. In reply to this the Acting Prime Minister, J E Fenton, could say only that the Government was doing all it could to relieve unemployment.
A461, F351/1/7
Records in this series cover administrative and personnel matters for the above agencies. In addition the records cover a diverse range of functions including immigration, emigration, naturalisation and passports (except for the period 1916–18); indentured coloured labour; forestry and forestry education; encouragement of oil and mineral prospecting; and the acquisition, disposal and rental of property.
Series: A1
Quantity: 455 metres
Recorded by: 1903–16 Department of External Affairs [I], Melbourne (CA 7); 1916–28 Department of Home and Territories, Central Office (CA 15); 1928–32 Department of Home Affairs [II], (Central Office) (CA 24); 1932–38 Department of the Interior [I], Central Administration (CA 24)
Schedule of requests received for the distribution of trees to shires and municipalities for the relief of unemployment, 1930
This item contains information regarding the large number of saplings and shrubs despatched from the Federal Capital Territory to shires and municipalities to provide work for the relief of the unemployed.
A1, 1930/7943
Free bus transport to school for children of the unemployed, 1931–32 A1, 1931/8106
Federal subsidy for extra forestry work in the States to relieve unemployment A1, 1935/2667
This series contains records about the administration of Commonwealth copyright. Most records in this series contain applications for registration of copyright for literary or dramatic works. Among the many items is an application for copyright registration for a book on the Depression:
Series: A1336
Quantity: 607.54 metres
Recorded by: Australian Industrial Property Organisation Central Office (CA 555) (CA 555); 1913–30 Copyright Office [II] (CA 556); 1930–60 Australian Industrial Property Organisation, Central Office (CA 555)
Unemployed! – experiences – 'Down and out in Melbourne' by Charles Martin, c1930 A1336, U24
Records in this series contain details and the full history of the acquisition or resumption of land for Commonwealth property in NSW.
Series: SP351/1
Quantity: 17.31 metres
Recorded by: 1909–11 Department of Home Affairs [I], Central Office (CA 8); 1911–32 Lands and Survey Branch (CA 737); 1932–48 Property and Survey Branch (CA 738)
Newcastle (naval land) – removal of Nobby's Camp for the unemployed, 1934–42 SP351/1, CL11837
Records in this series contain correspondence about the administration function and policy of Eastern Command, including accounts, ammunition, Victoria Barracks, camps, casualties, compensation, clothing, establishments, provisions and stores.
Series: SP 459/1
Quantity: 65 metres
Recorded by: 1912–21 Second Military District, New South Wales [I] (CA 6335); 1921–39 Second District Base, Australian Military Forces, New South Wales (CA 4334); 1939–42 Headquarters, Eastern Command [I], Australian Military Forces (CA 1876)
Liverpool Camp – housing of unemployed, 1931–32 SP459/1, 518/2/1303
The files in this series record activities undertaken by Commonwealth departments responsible for the administration of the Federal Capital Territory.
Series: A430
Quantity: 4.14 metres
Recorded by: Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Branch, Department of Home Affairs [II] (CA 756) (CA 756); Department of the Interior [I] 1939–51 Civic (ACT) Administration Branch, Department of the Interior [II] (CA 757) (CA 757)
Canberra Unemployment Relief Fund, 1930–31
This item contains interdepartmental memoranda following a decision to engage relief workers to paint Acton Hall in August 1930. The cost of labour was recovered from the Canberra Unemployment Relief Fund Committee, while the cost of materials was met by the Department of Home Affairs, FCT Branch.
A430, G1
Canberra Unemployment Relief Fund Committee – general matters, 1930–32
This item contains correspondence between the Canberra Unemployment Relief Fund Committee, the Minister for Home Affairs, the Department of Home Affairs, FCT Branch, and the Department of Works about the allocation of funds and the organisation of relief work for Canberra's unemployed.
A430, G180
Shelter sheds – Westridge bus shelter and Canberra Unemployment Relief Committee, 1930
This item indicates the level of Commonwealth Government involvement in the administration of rudimentary relief work in the FCT. For example, it includes correspondence leading to the granting of ministerial approval for the painting of the bus shelters at Westlake and Westridge by relief workers. The cost of labour was to be met by the Canberra Unemployment Relief Fund Committee, with the balance coming from the Department of Home Affairs, FCT Branch.
A430, G386
Items in this series record works and services matters that became the administrative responsibility of the Department of Home Affairs [II], Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Branch following the abolition of the Federal Capital Commission in April 1930.

Items in this series also contain memoranda, notes, reports, requisitions and extracts of meetings. An emphasis on strict expenditure control and accountability is apparent in files dealing with the provision of relief work for the unemployed in the FCT.

Series: A6272
Quantity: 1.44 metres
Recorded by: Federal Capital Territory Branch, Department of Home Affairs [II] (CA 756); 1932–39 Civic (ACT) Administration Branch, Department of the Interior [I] (CA 757); 1939–51 Civic (ACT) Administration Branch, Department of the Interior [II] (CA 757)
Unemployment relief work – Canberra City area – maintenance of footpaths and roadways on north and south sides of River Molonglo, 1930 A6272, E171
Unemployment relief work – Canberra Swimming Pool – parking area and access, 1930–31
This item contains correspondence about the proposed construction of a parking area and access to the Canberra Swimming Pool to provide suitable relief work for six men initially and for 15 men eventually. The estimated cost was £700, of which £415 was to be spent on labour.
A6272, E137
Special relief measures for unemployed persons in the Federal Capital Territory prior to Christmas, 1930–31 1930–31 A6272, E175
Blankets for unemployed from Commissariat Stores, 1929–31 A6272, E202
Firewood supplies for unemployed, 1930–34 A6272, E227
Image 1: Working for the Dole: Commonwealth Relief during the Great Depression - Building roads in the Federal Capital Territory, c1929.

Image 1: Working for the Dole: Commonwealth Relief during the Great Depression - Building roads in the Federal Capital Territory, c1929.
NAA: A3560, 5122
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Unemployed workmen – miscellaneous matters, including accommodation and various general complaints, criticisms and demonstrations, 1930–31 A6272, E301
Records in this series reflect the purpose of the Newnes Investigation Committee, which was established to determine the viability of a commercially sound shale oil industry in the Newnes-Capertee area in New South Wales.
Series: A6321
Quantity: 1.62 metres
Recorded by: Newnes Investigation Committee (CA 4150)
Labor Daily report, 1933 A6321, N191
This series deals with medical care for returned soldiers, pensions, charitable organisations assisting former soldiers, supply of prostheses, and other matters related to repatriation.
Series: D2048
Quantity: 14.04 metres
Recorded by: 1918–20 Deputy Comptroller of Repatriation, South Australia (CA 3153); 1920–65 Deputy Commissioner of Repatriation, South Australia (CA 877)
Office accommodation and rented premises (permission to erect flood light, stocktaking, general maintenance of buildings, unemployment relief work, rents payable, hired properties, etc), 1927–54 D2048, G206 part 4
Living and compassionate allowances, 1929–53 D2048, G828 part 5
Restorations Financial Relief Act 1933, 1931–1954 D2084, G952
Unemployment Relief Council, 1932–34 D2048, G960
This series consists of correspondence records for Army Headquarters dealing with administration, organisation, staffing, training, ordinance, stores and transport. During the Great Depression the Army was required to provide shelter, clothing and stores to the unemployed, and the records listed below reflect this requirement.
Series: B1535
Quantity: 46 metres
Recorded by: 1930–39 Army Headquarters, Department of Defence [II], Victoria (CA 2671); 1939 Department of the Army, Central Office ( (CA 36))
Establishment of training camps for unemployed men, 1934–35 B1535, 725/1/23
Unemployment relief – distribution of surplus military clothing, 1932 B1535, 734/12/47
Clothing and boots for unemployed, 1932 B1535, 734/12/102
Boots for unemployed Hobart, 1933 B1535, 734/12/109
Loan of stores for relief of unemployed, 1930–38 B1535, 734/12/309
Permanent military forces – effect of the Financial Relief Act, 1933–34 B1535, 856/2/172
Henry Head – Defence reserve – unemployed camps, 1930–38 B1535, 869/3/503
Nobby's – Newcastle, NSW – unemployed camping area, 1930–39 B1535, 869/3/656
Broadmeadows Camp – engineers' depot, Alexandra – use by unemployed, 1930–31 B1535, 869/4/88
Use of Blackboy Hill Camp, WA for unemployed, 1930 B1535, 869/6/7
Defence Department provision towards relief for unemployed, 1930 B1535, 869/14/20
Blankets, tents and equipment for use of unemployed, 1928–30 B1535, 869/14/27
Use of drill hall, Grattan Street, Carlton by unemployed, 1930 B1535, 869/14/34
Drill Hall, Hurstville – unemployment relief, 1931–32 B1535, 869/14/110
Rutherford Camp – application for use by unemployed and use by persons affected by flood, 1931–32 B1535, 869/25/194
Liverpool Camp – use by unemployed, 1930–34 B1535, 869/25/249
Victoria Barracks, Brisbane – use by unemployed homeless girls, 1930 B1535, 869/30/107
Use of Defence buildings for unemployed women and girls, Sydney, 1930–31 B1535, 869/30/132
Application for the use of Victoria Barracks, Sydney for use of unemployed, 1930–31 B1535, 869/30/197
General application for use of drill halls (no specific drill hall) by unemployed, 1925–31 B1535, 869/30/219
Grattan Street Drill Hall (and other drill halls) – use by unemployed, 1930–32 B1535, 869/30/267
Compulsory military training – Labor Daily cuttings, 1933 B1535, 929/19/41
Unemployed members of militia units attending camps, 1932–38 B1535, 929/19/998
This is a general correspondence series that contains records dealing with the activities of the Navy Office of the Department of Defence.
Series: MP124/6
Quantity: 50.23 metres
Recorded by: 1923–38 Navy Office [III], Department of Defence [II] (CA 2456)
Housing fund for the unemployed – request for issue of articles, 1931 MP124/6, 603/229/173
Image 2: Working for the Dole: Commonwealth Relief during the Great Depression - Men queuing for work relief, Adelaide, 1930.

Image 2: Working for the Dole: Commonwealth Relief during the Great Depression - Men queuing for work relief, Adelaide, 1930.
NLA: Adelaide Register News Pictorial, 3 December 1930
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Records in this series contain general correspondence about public works projects in the Federal Capital Territory. Some deal with unemployment matters, particularly with provision of relief work for the unemployed.
Series: A292
Quantity: 25.02 metres
Recorded by: 1930–32 Department of Works and Railways (Central Office) (CA 14); 1932–38 Works and Services Branch [I], Canberra (CA 740); 1938–39 Department of Works [I], Central Office (CA 30); 1939–46 Works and Services Branch [II], Canberra (CA 742); 1946–49 Works Director, ACT (CA 743)
Unemployment relief scheme – road of access to Westlake settlement, 1930–31
Records in this series contain general correspondence about public works projects in the Federal Capital Territory. Some deal with unemployment matters, particularly with provision of relief work for the unemployed.
Unemployed relief works, 1932–33 A292, C2832
Unemployed relief – use of skilled men, 1933 A292, C4937
Industrial – unemployment – relief workers – allocation for work for end financial year, 1934 A292, C6118


Chapter notes | All notes

1 Quoted in P R Hart, J A Lyons: A Political Biography, unpublished PhD thesis, Australian National University, 1967, pp. 54–55.

2 J Robertson, J H Scullin: A Political Biography, University of Western Australia Press, Adelaide, 1974, p. 397.

3 Senate Hansard, 27 November 1929, Government Printer, Canberra, FCT, volume 122, p. 263.

4 C B Schedvin, Australia and the Great Depression: A Study of Economic Development and Policy in the 1920s and 1930s, Sydney University Press in association with Oxford University Press (South Melbourne), 1988, p. 210.

5 House of Representatives Hansard, 12 December 1929, Government Printer, Canberra, FCT, volume 122, p. 1 163.

6 National Archives of Australia: A786, J19/1.

7 House of Representatives Hansard, 25 June 1930, Government Printer, Canberra, FCT, vol. 125, p. 3 204.