Due to current circumstances, this page has been updated but will no longer be added to or maintained until further notice.
Australia was not spared the effects of The Great Depression. It had a similar impact here to that around the rest of the world. In addition, there were several peculiarly Australian aspects such as the role of Jack Lang and the payment of NSW debts [or not], the rise of the New Guard and its role as an opposing force to his actions.
This page looks at specific people and events as well as the general impact of the Great Depression on everyday people.
Journals, databases, primary documents, reference material and other information are included where these are relevant.
Lang, John Thomas [Jack]
NSW Premier, Federal Labour politician.
- Jack Lang
Supportive article about Lang. Still covers major points and causes relating to the period.
- John Thomas [Jack] Lang
Lang’s entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
- Lang Labor -
Background, ALP in NSW, Reconciliation, special periods, aftermath. Related site looks at Jack Lang. Wikipedia.
- The Hon. John
Thomas LANG [1876-1975]
Information from the NSW Parliament.
Joseph Aloysius Lyons
- Joseph Aloysius Lyons
Lyon’s entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
- Joseph Lyons PM
Information about the man who became Prime Minister in 1932 and his role during this period.
- James Scullin
Scullin’s entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
- James Scullin PM
Information about the man who became Prime Minister in 1929 and his role during this period.
- Edward Granville Theodore
Theodore’s entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Federal Treasurer at the time of the Great Depression.
- 10 June 1931
Inside Story. ‘Never again ? The Great Depression changed a generation, writes Erik Eklund, but can we be sure that all the lessons were learnt ?’
to 1939 - Depression and Crisis
Information from the NSW Parliament covering Jack Lang, the role of the Governor, the Depression, social disruption.
‘The content featured is no longer current and is being made available to the general public for research and historical information purposes only’. Still, quite extensive and fascinating.
- Australia, 1930
A lecture by L.F.Giblin [Ritchie Professor of Economics in the University of Melbourne] in 1930, looking at the problems that existed.
Australian in the 1930s - The Great Depression
Teacher information from My Place.
- Australian Governments Did Not Have The
“The Means Or The Will To Adequately Handle The Depression”. Article by Thomas Dickson, Murdoch University.
- Australia’s Greek moment during
‘The Depression in Australia. Parallels and differences with modern Greece ’.
- Brazen Hussies and
One of a series of articles looking at the role of women, in this case during the Depression. Looks at several common views and emphasises their multi-faceted role in society.
- Bread and Dripping
‘Unemployed people were forced to build their houses out of scrap and discarded materials. They established a trading post where clothing was donated. Indigenous Australians were not able to receive the dole and were issued meagre rations’.
- Great Depression
National Museum of Australia. ‘The Australian economy collapsed and unemployment reached a peak of 32 per cent in 1932. It took Australia almost a decade to recover from the Great Depression’.
- Great Depression in Australia
Looks at the 1920s, 1929, Scullin and Lang, the recovery, the legacy of the Great Depression, references, further links. Wikipedia.
Looking Back On The Great Depression In Australia
Article with references and endnotes including links.
Memories of the Great Depression
Everyday stories from an Australian who lived through the Great Depression. Links.
- Skint ! Making
do in The Great Depression
Sydney Living Museums. 5 sections providing information and images.
- South Australia, The Depression Years
- 1930 to 1936
Provides extensive references to newspaper articles, most of which could be gained from National Library sources. Links are grouped in areas such as Females, Finance, Industrial Relations, more.
- The Depression Years’ Trail
Graphic images of the Depression years, as collated by Picture Australia [now part of Trove].
- The Great Depression 
Australian Screen provides a range of clips and ‘the clips have teachers’ notes related to this topic’. 10 clips listed, with the possibility of accessing more.
- The Great Depression 
Listing of items held by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Museum in Sydney about the Depression era. Most provide a sizable image with notes explaining what they are and how they were used. Other museums likely to have similar collections.
- The Great Depression, 1929-1935
Resource unit from the History Teachers’ Association of NSW. You need to be a member to access this. Select “Member Resources” from the top menu.
- The Great Depression Australia
‘This video is based on The Great Depression in Australia in the 1930s. It is used for history and educational purposes only’.
- The Great Depression and The Battle
Political, social and economic events of the period, including hindsight views. Part of downloadable book called ‘Giblin’s Platoon - The trials and triumphs of the economist in Australian public life’. Download the whole book or just this chapter.
- The Great Depression in Australia
A Library Guide from Marian College. Links to text, videos, more.
- The Depression in Australia - Parallels
and differences with modern Greece
‘During the 1930s Depression, Australia was facing the same kind of dilemma that Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy are facing today’.
- The Myth Of The Great
A new account of the Great Depression in Australia. ‘Based on interviews with hundreds of families over many years, Potts’s big claim is that while the Depression was very bad, it wasn’t all that bad. The considerable interest of the book is that it offers another take on the accumulated oral history of the Depression, this time with the accent on the positive’.
The New Guard
- Eric Campbell
Leader of the New Guard. Biography.
- The New Guard
Historical context, New Guard and Jack Lang, membership, activities, civil unrest, decline. Wikipedia.
- ‘The Susso’ &
A song sung during The Great Depression. Part of a larger on the Australia and The Great Depression.
- Trade Union Influence in the 1920s
Working conditions and changes during the period leading up to, and around, the Great Depression.
- Two Depressions, One Banking Collapse
Looks at and compares the Depressions of 1890s and the 1930s in Australia, their causes and differences. PDF file [and other formats]. Links to other information about The 1930s Depression.
- VCE Australian History - Life during the Great Depression
Multiple sections covering all aspects from employment to The New Guard and entertainment. Video also included.
- Weevils in the Flour
‘Magnificent oral record of the experiences of ordinary Australians during the Great Depression of the 1930s’. Note this is a fee-based text.
have we learnt ?
The Great Depression in Australia from the perspective of today. ‘ I am interested in particular in what lessons were learnt from the experience of the 1930s, and how these lessons have informed more recent economic policy decisions’. Speech from 2009.
- Working for the Dole
Commonwealth Relief during the Great Depression. Multiple sections available to read online. There are also several appendices.