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The Living Conditions in Australia at the Turn of the 20th Century

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The living conditions within Australia have differed greatly since the early 1900s compared to now. At the turn of the twentieth century, Australia was starting to evolve into a proper community with the six colonies federating to become the Commonwealth of Australia. There were a lot of jobs to be done especially coming out of the depression from the 1890s.

The living conditions within Australia at the start of the 1900s were heavily influenced by social status. The wealthy lived high up in the hills where they were safe from floods and far away from the factories while the poor lived down in the slums where it was heavily polluted. Poor people usually lived in small iron houses which had been shipped from overseas. These houses were cramped and very open to the elements as they were freezing during winter and boiling in summer. The houses were positioned within very close proximity of each other at the bases of hills meaning that they were highly susceptible to floods and heavy rainfall. These slums were a horrible place to leave in because of the unsanitary conditions and all the pollution. The rich on the other hand lived comfortable up in large houses. The houses had a fair amount of space between them and were conveniently close to the churches and shops. These houses had a lot more space to move around and could easily fit a number of the iron houses within them. Housing for the wealthy was a lot more sanitary and separate rooms for different jobs much like the houses we have today.

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Before the turn of 20th century people lived in both rural and urban areas. Those who were rural were most likely to be living on farms working with livestock. At the turn many people decided to go urban. It was becoming a growing trend to go and live in the suburbs as there were more job opportunities in the cities. There were a number of different activities that people could choose from back in the early 20th century. Reading was particularly popular with one third of Britain’s books being sent over.

Australians also loved to sing and dance. Dancing was loved by people from all classes as it was seen as a way to socialize and a chance to meet some new friends or a member of the opposite sex. If people could afford it they bought pianos and held sing songs with friends and family. Music was very bing in Australia and helped bring people together. Australians were heavy drinkers so many pubs and hotels were built to accommodate for this. Sometimes there were bars and lounges which were exclusive to either men or women.

The beach was another popular venue of entertainment during this time. There were laws regulating the ability to swim in the beaches but these were contested in 1904. Before then however the beaches were still quite popular as people walked alongside them or had picnics on the sand. Again like the bars and pubs there were single sex sections. Religion was important to many people in Australia at this time so the Sabbath was a special day. All the shops closed and no one went to work so that they could spend time with their families and go to church.

Working conditions were tough in Australia. There were a few different jobs that a person could have and these included Miners, Traders, Doctors, Teachers and Farmers. Many manual workers however went to work in factories which were extremely overcrowded and usually quiet hot. There were a number of positives and negatives to working in these factories. The good things were that people were guaranteed a basic wage, has an eight hour working day with a half day on Saturdays, assistance if unable to work before 65 and pension for people over 65. There were issues with working though and they were having extremely dangerous and unhealthy conditions in factories especially because of poor ventilation, no safety regulations on poorly maintained machines and polluted air and water ways. There were smaller negatives as well such as no sick leave, no unemployment benefits, no overtime pay and lots of injuries. Women usually stayed at home and did their household duties but women who made it to the workforce worked the same outs as men but always ended up receiving 50 percent less wage than men. Money was very important, especially to the lower class as the wage of a single man was not enough to support their families. In order to be able to fund their families, parents usually sent their children into the workforce at extremely young age of eight years. At work children had to haul heavy loads and work large machines effectively breaking the kids.

Living in Australia at the turn of the 20th century was extremely hard especially for the lower class. There was lot hardships and unfairness but in the end it was all worth it. Without their great determination and achievements, Australia would not be the great nation that it proves to be today.

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