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Year 12: Term 1 (IA2): Australia in the 1930s

Term 2: Cold War

Useful Websites

Causes of the Depression

Policies to Relieve the Great Depression


  • Reason in Revolt brings together primary source documents of Australian radicalism as a readily accessible digitised resource. By 'radical' we refer to those who aimed to make society more equal and to emancipate the exploited or oppressed. The Reason in Revolt website is an expanding record of the movements, institutions, venues and publications through which radicals sought to influence Australian society.


  • What were Jack Lang's solutions to the effects of the Depression, and why were they introduced?
  • Why were they popular?
  • Why was Lang dismissed?

Unemployment and Consequences

‘The Susso’ & ‘The Dole’

13 June, 1932

“We’re on the susso now,
We can’t afford a cow,
We live in a tent,
We pay no rent,
We’re on the susso now.”

This chant to the tune of ‘We’re in the Army Now’, has become a more frequently sung amongst school children, as unemployment rates continue to rise, peaking this month at 28%.

Over 60,000 people are now dependent upon the sustenance payment provided by the Australian government, know as ‘The Susso’. The Welfare payment is available (upon registration) to those in truly dire situations, and who have been unemployed for a sustained period (over 2 weeks), and possess no assets or savings, and is in the form of rations, however there is talk of an introduction of a cash order system.

‘The Dole’ is an alternative to ‘The Susso’ for those who are unable to find work. The State government employ men to work on public infrastructure such as improving rails and roads and digging canals. The conditions however, are very poor. Those involved in the dole scheme can be sent to remote areas and have their below basic wage payments cancelled if they decline any work.

For those in work, times are not necessarily any easier. 17% of the working population earn less than $4 per week. For most, everyday is a struggle.

Good diagrams showing details of payments of sustenance payments in the 1930s  

National Archive Research Guide
This guide documents attempts by the federal government to provide work relief for the unemployed, the bureaucratic bungling that stymied those attempts and the role of the Commonwealth Bank in dictating government economic policy. It also documents the social unrest caused by the inequitable and inadequate measures put in place to help Australians survive one of the toughest times in our nation's history.  

It links to some original documents which are digitally available if they show the following  View digital copy  

Overview and inquiry questions - NSW Education - The 1930s :moments and experiences from 4 the Great Depression 

Particularly about Queensland  - Note: Since the passing of the Unemployed Workers Insurance Act in 1922 Queensland was the only Australian State with a scheme to support unemployed workers.  

Trove Newspaper 1936: The Susso|||l-decade=193|||l-category=Article|||l-year=1935  

Trove  Newspaper 1930

UNEMPLOYMENT.  SCHEMES FOR ALLEVIATION.|||l-category=Article|||l-word=100+-+1000+Words|||l-decade=193  



The ENTIRE collection of resources provided by the BBC Library can be searched on ONE single, powerful search platform, which retrieves print books, eBooks, database articles and websites. Click HERE for assistance.

Possible Topics

These might be some topics you could explore:

*** Causes / Impact of the Great Depression
Premiers' Plan
Theodore Plan
*** Unemployment and the 'Susso'
Daily Life
Labor Party Split
*** Growth of Extremist Political Organisations
Economic Recovery Policy
Domestic Recovery Policy: Public Works, Relief and Wages
*** Foreign Policy and the lead up to WWII
Sport, Entertainment and Cultural Life
Legacy of the Great Depression

  • *** Jack Lang
  • Edith Cowan
  • Nancy Bird Walton
  • Otto Niemeyer
  • Sir Isaac Isaacs
  • Charles Kingsford Smith


  • Bodyline Series
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Extinction of Tasmanian Thylacine
  • Cane Toads Introduced


  • Women
  • Aborigines
  • *** Working classes

Extremist Groups

IOP CAM: Source Analysis and Evaluation Skills


Screen Australia Clips

QCAA Sample IA2 Annotated Response on Mao Tse-Tung

Possible Hypotheses to Explore

Writing Template For Response