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] and 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.

  • 13 May 1932 - Premier Jack Lang dismissed
    ‘On This Day - 13 May 1932 the NSW Premier, Jack Lang, was dismissed from office by NSW Governor Sir Philip Game. Lang is the only Premier of an Australian state to have been dismissed by the State Governor’. Click on the Examiner [Launceston, Tas. : 1900-1954] link to access the newspaper entry. You can magnify the page and read the contents. Use the blue ICONS on the left to provide yourself with the best possible option for reading [or try using scroll button on your mouse].
  • Jack Lang [New South Wales politician]
    Wikimedia Commons. A collection of photographs of Jack Lang the individual, as well as him in a number of settings from addressing mass crowds to Cutting the ribbon at the Sydney Harbour Bridge Opening.
  • Jack Lang : The Australian Who Almost Started a Civil War
    ‘Jack Lang was so popular he almost started a civil war in Australia’. [13min.16sec.]
  • John Thomas [Jack] Lang
    Lang’s entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  • Lang Labor
    Background, ALP in NSW, Reconciliation, special periods, aftermath references, bibliography and external links. A related site looks at Jack Lang [Australian Politician]. This site covers his Early life, Early career, the Lang Premiership, Later career, References and external links. Both from Wikipedia.
  • Jack Lang interviewed by Hazel de Berg - National Library of Australia
    ‘Jack Lang, speaks of his childhood in Sydney; the years of affluence, then poverty; working from the age of seven; his education; becoming Mayor of Auburn; winning the seat of Granville and beginning his political career; the conscription issue and his opposition to it; the shorter working week controversy; various legislations he fought for [child endowment, widow’s pension, worker’s compensation]; the depression in Australia [1929]; the Premiership of N.S.W. in 1930; the power of the media; his dismissal from office; the closing of the Government Savings Bank in N.S.W.; Henry Lawson’. Nearly 50 minutes covering three separate presentations. You can also get a Live Transcipt or Download. Be sure to scroll to the Transcript and Summary section to see the full extent of what is covered.
  • The Hon. John Thomas LANG [1876-1975]
    Extensive information from the NSW Parliament. Covers areas including his NSW Parliamentary Service, Political Party Activity, Membership of other Parliaments & Offices Held plus Additional Information.

Joseph Aloysius Lyons

Prime Minister.

  • Joseph Aloysius Lyons
    Joseph Lyon’s entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  • Joseph Aloysius Lyons - Fact Sheet
    National Archives of Australia. Overview plus links to specific records kept by the archives.
  • Joseph Lyons
    Early Life, State Politics, Federal Politics, Resignation from the Labor Party, Prime Minister, Death, Personal Life, Legacy, Honours, References, Further Reading, External Links. Wikipedia.
  • Joseph Lyons PM
    Information about the man who became Prime Minister in 1932 and his role during this period. Information covers from the beginning of his political career, state and national positions, the United Australia Party and much more.
  • Joseph Lyons - Wikimedia Commons
    A collection of 47 photos of both the individual and him in specific events and settings.
  • Lyons, Joseph Aloysius [1879 - 1939]
    Early life, Teacher and Politician, The War Years, Federal Politics, Acting Treasurer and much more.

James Scullin

Prime Minister.

  • James Henry Scullin PC
    Parliament of Australia. ‘James Scullin [1876-1953] served as Australia’s ninth Prime Minister, with a legacy forever marked by the impact of the Great Depression. Having led the Labor Party to its then largest electoral majority in 1929, his tumultuous term ended two years later with the party’s biggest defeat’. Information about him and also the artist [William Beckwith McInnes] who painted the portrait that is still found in Parliament House.
  • James Scullin
    Scullin’s entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. It covers not only this period but his complete lifetime
  • James Scullin [MOAD]
    Personal information; Milestones during his period as PM; Parliament; Highlights of his life and career [including a guide to his papers]; One fact to remember - James Scullin was the first Australian born and Catholic, Labor Prime Minister .
  • James Scullin And The GCMG
    ‘Award winning cartoonist and yarn spinner, Warren Brown, reveals the emotional lives of Australian Prime Ministers through 10 objects they used every day or even adored – from Robert Menzies’ home movie camera, to Joseph Lyons’ love letters, Harold Holt’s briefcase and Ben Chifley’s pipe. These treasures reveal the nation’s leaders, as you have never seen them before. James Scullin And The GCMG is an episode from the series’. Other information about Scullin is also included on the page. Download the video if you wish. See the page for details.
  • James Scullin : Depression Treasurer
    Information from about his time as either Prime Minister or Treasurer.
  • James Scullin PM
    Information about the man who became Prime Minister in 1929 and his role during this period. National Museum of Australia.

Edward Granville Theodore


The New Guard

  • Eric Campbell
    Leader of the New Guard. This is his Biography including his beliefs and involvement in The New Guard.
  • Francis de Groot
    Certainly one of the better know New Guard, if for nothing else than the fact he managed to cut the ribbon on the Sydney Harbour Bridge before Jack Lang managed to do so.
  • The New Guard
    National Archives of Australia. ‘The New Guard was a monarchist and anti-leftist movement active from 1931 to 1935. The movement was formed in Sydney in February 1931’. Introduction, Records relating to the New Guard, Further reading plus Related Content links.
  • The New Guard []
    ‘The New Guard was a monarchist, anti-leftist movement active from 1931 to 1935’. You can access further material using a number of the links to be found on the page.
  • The New Guard [Wikipedia]
    Historical context, New Guard and Jack Lang, membership, activities [including the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge], civil unrest, decline. Links to information about a number of the notable members of this group.
  • The New Guard and the Labour Movement, 1931-35
    You can read and download this article if you Log in through your school or library or you can Register with Jstor to access it [top, right].

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  • 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 ?’
  • 1930s Depression [The Dictionary of Sydney]
    A range of links to information about multiple aspects of The Depression in Australia. Hover on the link for a brief summary of what is included. Has both written and visual formats in the content. The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021 but the content is still available.
  • 1930 to 1939 - Depression and Crisis
    Information from the Parliament of NSW covering Jack Lang, The Lang Government and the Crisis, the changing role of the Governor, Reforming the Legislative Council and social disruption through to the eve of the war [World War 2].
  • 1932 Starvation Debenture
    ‘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 to read.
  • Australia, 1930
    An inaugural lecture by L.F.Giblin [Ritchie Professor of Economics in the University of Melbourne] in 1930, looking at the problems that existed. ‘You may copy or order a copy through Copies Direct or use the online copy for research or study; for other uses Contact us for further information about copying’
  • Brazen Hussies and God’s Police
    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.
  • Great Depression
    National Museum of Australia. ‘1932 : Height of the Great Depression, with 32 per cent unemployment’. See our classroom resource.
  • Great Depression in Australia
    Looks at the 1920s, 1929, Scullin and Lang, Lyon’s government, varying experiences of the Great Depression, Unemployed Australians, Culture and Society, 1932-1939 : A slow recovery, the Legacy of the Great Depression, References, further links. Wikipedia.
  • Great Depression in Australia - WikiMili
    Multiple aspects are covered [see Content at the top of the screen] as well as links to other information. Most recent update occurred in April 2023.
  • Great Depression — Testing images of the Great Depression
    Australian History Mysteries. ‘This unit provides a way of introducing students to the social impacts of the Great Depression on Australia in a simple, entertaining and challenging way. Its aim is to help students be more aware of the variety of experiences and the complexity of the factors involved in determining how people were affected by the Depression’. Case Study unit of work inquiry structure. Fee-based.
  • Life during the Great Depression - Australia vs the US
    Trove. A webquest - Introduction, The Task, The Process … Timelines, Presentation and Evaluation.
  • Memories of the Great Depression
    Everyday stories from an Australian who lived through the Great Depression. Click on the images to increase their size. Use the Depressions link near the bottom of the page to access other linked resources [only 1 listed at time of update].
  • Research Guide : The Great Depression
    Reserve Bank of Australia [Unreserved]. Topic Summary, Further information, Prominent People and References. ‘Linked to - 6 other Guides; 65 Files and Documents; 11 Photographs; 6 Research guides and 4 Series Guides’.
  • Sample work History K–10 Stage 5 : Experiences of the Depression
    NSW Education Standards. ‘Students work in pairs and create a dialogue between two characters who had different experiences of the Great Depression. Dialogues may be presented as a live performance, script, audio tape, videotape, cartoon or story board, or exchange of letters. This activity is part of Topic 3 : Australia between the Wars, in the Mandatory Stage 5 course and focuses on the experiences of different social groups during the Great Depression and the impact of the Depression on their lives’. Further details from the site.
  • Skint ! Making do in The Great Depression
    Sydney Living Museums. 5 sections providing information and images. Interesting imagery on the home page.
  • 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 and more.
  • The Great Depression []
    ‘The Great Depression began with the collapse of the US stock market in 1929. Public and political opinion was divided during a time when many Australians lost their jobs, savings and homes. Topics - A topic is a collection of records with interpretation and inquiry questions. Each topic is aligned to the Australian Curriculum and focuses on an aspect of Australian history. This section includes 9 separate topics covering from banish the Budget Blues - a song from the Great Depression to Great Depression Ration Allowance’.
  • The Great Depression - Stories from Australia’s Culture Portal
    Trove. Overview from beginning to end. Unemployment in Australia; What caused the Great Depression ?; Social impact; Political consequences; Getting Australia working again; The recovery; links to further information.
  • The Great Depression and The Battle for Inflation
    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 any of the chapters.
  • The Great Depression in Australia
    A Library Guide from Marian College. ‘This guide examines the causes and effects of The Great Depression, in Australia and around the world’. Links to texts, a database, newsreels, short videos, links and more.
  • The Myth Of The Great Depression
    An account of the Great Depression in Australia. ‘Based on interviews with hundreds of families over many years, David 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 Susso’ & ‘The Dole’
    A song sung during The Great Depression. One part of a larger site covering Australia and The Great Depression while also including some linkages to overseas situations.
  • Two Depressions, One Banking Collapse
    Looks at and compares the Depressions of 1890s [collapse of the banking system] and the 1930s [problems with the financial system] in Australia, their causes and differences. This PDF file is the actual document. A second site, [click on this link] allows access and provides a short abstract as well.
  • VCE Australian History - Life during the Great Depression
    Multiple sections covering all aspects from employment to The New Guard and entertainment. Short [3:00] video included.

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  • Australia and the 1930s -The Great Depression, A Summary
    A brief summary on 6 screens provides an overview of this. Transcript available but includes code inclusions. Download requires you to have a free trial. There are also links to related videos from both Australia and other countries [primarily USA].
  • Australian Great Depression [Unfinished]
    As the title indicates this was an unfinished video. The major problem from the comments relates to the sound. Sections may still be of use. [54:50]
  • 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’. Three clips from Australian Screen.
  • Causes of the Great Depression in Australia
    ‘What were the key events that caused the Great Depression in Australia ?’. [1:53]
  • Great Depression in Australia,1930s
    ‘Australia suffered badly during the period of the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Depression began with the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and rapidly spread worldwide. As in other nations, Australia suffered years of high unemployment, poverty, low profits, deflation, plunging incomes and lost opportunities for economic growth and personal advancement’. [3:12]
  • History Mystery 8 - The Great Depression. Testing images of the Great Depression
    Australian History Mysteries. ‘This video introduces you to the social impacts of the Great Depression on Australia in a simple, entertaining and challenging way. Its aim is to help you be more aware of the variety of experiences and the complexity of the factors involved in determining how people were affected by the Depression. It does this by using an empathic approach to the period, while still tackling it in a historically accurate way’. [11:11].
  • How did Australia survive during the Great Depression ?
    A video from the Sydney Morning Herald. [7:14]
  • Life in the 1930s Australia - Images
    A collection of photographs, covering multiple aspects of life as well as some with print information, primarily about Australia. A number relate directly to the Great Depression.
  • Life in the 1930s Australia - Videos
    A collection of videos, many covering multiple aspects of life in Australia. A number relate directly to the Great Depression in Australia while others reflect the same period in other countries.
  • Songs of the [not so] Great Depression in Australia
    Trove. A combination of audio, information and explanation. Short samples of one song.
  • Stuff You Need to Know About Australian History #6 The Great Depression
    ‘This episode looks at the consequences of the Great Depression for the Australian people and government, which included the first dismissal of an Australian government in history’. [5:28]
  • The Australian Election of 1934
    It may sound somewhat flippant but it does cover the primary points and the impact of what was happening in the country at the time. [3:40]
  • The Great Depression
    ‘The response of the Australian Government to the Great Depression. Featuring a special appearance from Australia’s foremost expert on the depression years Dr. Max Fudge’. [4:49]
  • The Great Depression Australia
    The story told in a series of photographs. [1:35]
  • The Great Depression [Digital Classroom - National Museum of Australia]
    ‘The Wall Street Crash of 1929 led to a worldwide economic depression and the collapse of the Australian economy. At its worst in 1932, unemployment in Australia reached 32 per cent. It took almost 10 years for the Australian economy to recover from the Great Depression, affecting people deeply for decades to come. It also radically changed economic thinking and policy in Australia’.
  • The Great Depression - Australian Screen
    The site provides a range of clips, each having teachers’ notes related to the topic. 14 clips listed, with a possible option to access more. Australian Screen.
  • The Great Depression : How Were Families Affected ?
    ‘This Australian made, curriculum fit program examines the impact of the Great Depression on Australian society during the late 1920s and 1930s. This period saw levels of poverty and despair on a scale never before experienced in contemporary Australia’. [2:50]
  • The Great Depression in Australia
    Sydney Distance Education School. A video showing annotated images of the time. They range from soup kitchens to protest marches, primitive homes to Depression swagmen. [2:42]


  • 1929 Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression - Documentary
    ‘On October 29, 1929, Black Tuesday hit Wall Street as investors traded some 16 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange in a single day. Billions of dollars were lost, wiping out thousands of investors. In the aftermath of Black Tuesday, America and the rest of the industrialised world spiralled downward into the Great Depression [1929-39], the deepest and longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialised world up to that time’ [58:36].
  • Causes of the Great Depression
    ‘You will learn the causes of the Great Depression as explained by two leading economic theories. My lecture notes are found here :’. This looks at what are seen as the causes of the global version. [34:20]
  • Great Depression : Causes, Definition & Dates [Video]
    History. ‘The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialised world, lasting from 1929 to 1939. Explore topics on the era, from the stock market crash of 1929, to the Dust Bowl, to FDR’s response to the economic calamity - the New Deal’. There are 13 short videos covering a range of topics each about 2 to 4 minutes each.
  • History Brief : The Causes of the Great Depression
    ‘In this video, the causes of the Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression are discussed. The 1930s saw a prolonged period of economic difficulties known as the Great Depression. What caused the Great Depression ? Could it have been prevented ?’. [4:49]
  • Modern History HSC #11 Breadline or Bailouts : Australia during the Great Depression
    ‘Australian political leaders responded to the Great Depression with a mixture of austerity measures and social welfare programs. At the height of the depression in 1932, the nation was split regarding the two priorities of stability vs welfare, so much so, that tension between the Federal and State leadership almost culminated in a civil crisis. It is clear, that this serious lack of co-ordination affected the success of the economic recovery in Australia with a real improvement only coming later in the 30s, largely due to non-political factors’ [27:41].
  • The Great Depression Explained
    ‘The Great Depression across the globe, Explained’. Click on . . . more in the panel under the title to access a listing of sections and links related to each of these. They have 12 different collections ranging from Great Depression Summaries to Other sources and including Australia under the title of Other colonies and the Great Depression. [43:10]
  • The Great Depression Explained in 11 Minutes
    Captivating History. Not about Australian experiences but about the American experience, how it came about and what were the effects of these. Key moments, Transcript and links to a variety of related resources, some of which are free. [11:49]
  • The Great Depression - What Caused It ?
    This is not particularly about Australia but rather a number of the factors that brought about The Great Depression which affected Australia as well as most countries around the world. [21:11]
  • The Poorman’s Meal - Great Depression Cooking
    This is just one of a series of videos by a grandmother who lived through the Great Depression. Each episode looks at a different meal. You can find others by using the listing on the right of the screen or by entering her name in the search box at the top of the screen. Clara was 98 when she died in 2013. You can also find more about Clara and her meals by visiting Clara’s Kitchen [6:41].
  • What Was It like to Live during the Great Depression in the US ?
    ‘If the Roaring Twenties was one long party, the Great Depression was the ultimate hangover. The stock market crash of 1929 didn’t cause the Great Depression by itself, but it is a powerful symbolic starting point to the greatest economic disaster of the twentieth century’ [12:34].
  • Wageless Life in Great Depression
    National Library of Australia. ‘It is frequently contended that present-day working conditions and wagelessness are analogous to those experienced during the severe economic downturn of the 1930s. Using methods of historical sociology, Professor Lisa Adkins explores oral and manuscript testimonies of those who lived through the period to test the claim that the conditions of the present and especially those associated with work, are comparable to those of the Great Depression’. You can also sign up for free to access not only this but other resources as well.
  • Weevils in the Flour
    ‘This is a magnificent oral record of the experiences of ordinary Australians during the Great Depression of the 1930s. What does the family breadwinner do after suddenly getting the sack ? How do you manage when you are working every second week only or your wages - but not your mortgage - have been cut by 20 per cent ? Working for the dole, living in shanty towns, squatting in empty buildings, standing forever in queues, despised by bureaucrats and slowly losing self-respect - all these experiences and more are described vividly within these pages’. Note : this is a fee-based book.
  • ‘We’re on the susso now’ [Height of the Great Depression]
    Australia’s Defining Moments - Digital Classroom, National Museum of Australia. Teacher Program, Timeline, Defining Moments, Learning Resources, multiple theme aspects, more. ‘It took almost 10 years for the Australian economy to recover from the Great Depression, affecting people deeply for decades to come’
  • What 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’. A speech from 2009. You can also access this material using this second link [slightly smaller print].
  • Working for the Dole - Commonwealth Relief during the Great Depression
    ‘This research guide documents attempts by the federal government to provide work relief for the unemployed during the Great Depression’ Download the book if desired [PDF, 2.31 mb].

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