"What Effects Did The Great Depression Have On Australian Society?"

1263 words - 5 pages

"What effects did The Great Depression have on Australian society?" The Great Depression had dual effects on Australian people; the ones that became unemployed went through tough times, and conversely the ones that retained their jobs prospered due to the depression. The family units during The Great Depression were under tremendous strain as a result of the desperation for jobs, leaving fathers resorting to "˜going bush' to look for work, and leaving their family stranded. The charities of the time were in strife and were soon overworked as the depression grew. The government soon had to get involved by offering sustenance and some clothing. The wool/wheat exports that Australia relied upon had a decreased value on the world market, resulting in the industries failing with the drop in world commodity prices. The unfortunate also suffered psychological affects, mainly feelings of insecurity, worthlessness, hopelessness and so forth. Conversely, as the cost of everything decreased, employed people were able to buy more; as a result employed people became even more affluent. The Great Depression was also a time of a united people due to a common misfortune, resulting in shantytowns such as Happy Valley. The Great Depression therefore had dual affects; the unemployed were in strife while the employed lived the high life.Family units with unemployed "˜bread winners' faced tough times keeping united. In 1933 12% of men with families earned nothing and 17% earned well below minimum wage, thus one in four families were destitute. Many fathers walked out on the families and never returned, they joined the 30 000 men wandering roads looking for work. Children became orphaned when their parents did not come back and when rent wasn't paid, lots of children started wandering the cities doing anything they could to stay alive. Great strain was placed on the family unit during The Great Depression, as people were desperate to survive.Charities, such as the Salvation Army, were the principal form of support at the beginning of the depression for the destitute providing basic meals, clothing and shelter. Not surprisingly, they were soon overwhelmed as the unemployment level rose and the government therefore was forced to start new initiatives. Sustenance payments known commonly as the "˜susso' were the main form of relief from the government. Sustenance was not given in cash payments but in the form of basic food rations, usually potatoes and bread, and some army surplus greatcoats and tunics that had been dyed black were offered. The relief was only given to the completely destitute: 60 000 people were helped in 1932 with a peak of 413,172 food orders issued in the 4 weeks ending 11 June, 1932. Due to the form of sustenance people still couldn't pay their rent, this is explained as susso was specifically implemented only to stop people from dying. Relief work was available to people lucky enough to get it, this involving work such as re-laying...

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