Skip to content | Skip to document navigation

Research Guides

Working for the Dole: Commonwealth Relief during the Great Depression

Working for the Dole

Don Fraser

Published by the National Archives of Australia

Image a: Working for the Dole: Commonwealth Relief during the Great Depression - front cover

Working for the Dole: Commonwealth Relief during the Great Depression - front cover
Enlarge image - View image gallery

This guide is number 15 in the series of Research Guides published by the National Archives of Australia.

The Great Depression lasted for only a few years, but its impact on Australia was devastating and long-lasting. The Scullin government was two days old when the crash of the New York Stock Exchange in 1929 heralded the start of unemployment and misery for many people. The political ramifications were just as dramatic and led to the defeat of the Scullin government two years later.

This guide documents attempts by the federal government to provide work relief for the unemployed, the bureaucratic bungling that stymied those attempts and the role of the Commonwealth Bank in dictating government economic policy. It also documents the social unrest caused by the inequitable and inadequate measures put in place to help Australians survive one of the toughest times in our nation's history.

Don Fraser was awarded a university medal for his Honours thesis on the coalminers of the Illawarra during the depression of the 1890s. In 1999 he was awarded a PhD by the University of Wollongong for his thesis on the Seaman's Union of Australia between 1904 and 1942. His interests lie in the social history of working people. He is currently working on a history of Australian maritime labour.

Guides include the material known to be relevant to their subject area but they are not necessarily a complete or definitive guide to all relevant material in the collection.

The National Archives reviews its collection to confirm the value of records for research, evidential and other purposes or to identify, in consultation with agencies, records for destruction. At the time of publication all the records described in this guide were present in the Archives collection. However, it is possible that some of the records may be destroyed if they are reviewed and considered not to be of enduring value. If this occurs the guide will be revised accordingly.

© Commonwealth of Australia 2001

First published 2001
First published online 2001

ISSN 1442-8245
ISBN 0 642 34431 0

This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 no part may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia, PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre ACT 2610, Australia.

Publications Manager: Angela McAdam
Editor: Hélène Attrill
Cover design: Zoë D'Arcy
HTML version: Brian Joyce, Neris Bryden and Russell Pym