The Great Depression

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By 1930 money was scarce and the future was uncertain. All segments of the community reduced their consumption and put off buying special products. When farmers and manufacturers deferred orders to Ronaldson and Tippett the firm did not reopen until 1932. The Railway Workshops rostered single men to work 2 out of 3 weeks, and married men to work 7 out of 8 weeks with staff reduced by 50 percent. Ballarat Banking Company staff worked for four years without holidays and their salary was cut by 10 percent[1]

Building activity halved in Ballarat between 1930 and 1931.[2]


The Dole

The Dole program of relief started in June 1930, with the new Ballarat Unemployment Relief Committee administering the scheme. In February 1931 a four-member family received two and a half loaves of bread, 14 pounds of potatoes, and an issue for heating and cooking. The Dole scheme was upgraded in March 1931, when the Work for Sustenance Scheme was introduced. [3]

Work for Sustenance Scheme The Work for Sustenance Scheme was introduced in March 1931. The relief gangs work included drainage improvements, tree planting at Black Hill, channelling the Yarrowee Creek and improving Lake Wendouree.[4]

The 1930s saw an unusual escalation in engineering works on a number of the channels due to the availability of 'relief' or 'sustenance' workers. During the Great Depression the unemployed were supported by programs funded jointly by the State Government and local councils and carried out under the auspices of the state Public Works Department. Eligible unemployed men worked for two days each week. Projects usually focussed on unskilled labour intensive work, with the unemployed joining existing council work gangs.[5]

Owing to the prevailing depression an extensive Relief Works programme has been entered into. ... The works to be done are in the main very suitable for unemployed, as they require a large proportion of unskilled labour. Particularly does this apply to the Stormwater Channel in Specimen Vale Creek, between Queen and Chamberlain Streets, which is built mainly of old flagstones taken up from the City streets from time to time. The sections of this Creek from Chamberlain Street to Stawell Street are being built in concrete, sufficient flagstones were not available. These jobs require a large amount of labouring work in excavating, filling and placing concrete.[6]

Mining Sustenance

During the depression many men turned to mining creating a new goldrush in the Ballarat district. A third of the district's 1002 miners were on a mining Sustenance in 1933. The government saw this a a good investment because it kept men of the normal dole.[7]


The People


See also


  1. The Courier: 1900-2000.
  2. The Courier: 1900-2000.
  3. The Courier: 1900-2000.
  4. The Courier: Celebrating the Century 1900-2000.
  5. Victorian Heritage Database Reports: City of Ballarat Creeks and Channels Heritage Precinct.
  6. City Of Ballarat Mayor's Annual Report 1930.
  7. The Courier: Celebrating the Century 1900-2000.


Further reading

External links

--Clare K.Gervasoni 16:09, 10 October 2019 (AEDT)

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