Welfarism in Australian Industry in the 1920’s Reconstruction Era

Philip Russell

RESEARCH NOTE: Recently found in the Mitchell and State Library of N.S.W. was Bulletin No. 17 of the Advisory Council for Science and Industry. Industrial Co-operation in Australia. Published in 1920, it was the complementary Australian study to the previous Bulletin which I examined the welfare work found in various other countrj and as stated from the outset, “The purpose of this Bulletin is to indicate the extent to which schemes for industrial co-operation have been applied to Australia” The report was compiled by sending letters “to about 100 firms, companies and individual employers as well as the Chambers of Commerce, Manufacturing, Retailers &C”. The result is a detailed descriptive ‘snapshot’ of a wide variety of the new and established schemes operating at the time in various industries. Some examples include:

  • the holiday resort and attendance bonus scheme at Associated Smelter’s Port Pirie works;
  • the share purchase scheme at Dunlop Rubber and Melbourne’s Metropolitan Gas Company; – the housing schemes at the Electrolytic Refining and Smelting works at Newcastle and at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory;
  • the activities of the welfare department at Farmer and Company’s Retailers;
  • the Industrial Works Department of the Y.M.C.A. whi provided welfare ‘huts’ at factory sites;
  • and the Life Assurance scheme at the British Tobacc Company (Aust) Ltd.

The re-emergence of this report provides an invaluable: historical guide through the conditions in Australian industry in the period and will hopefully prove useful in any future research or teaching of Hummer readers.