Four stories about actions – demonstrations, pickets, eviction resistance and occupations – that the unemployed people of Melbourne carried out from 1906 to 1982.
These stories come from the Radical Melbourne 1 & 2 books by Jeff and Jill Sparrow, published by Vulgar Press in 2001 and 2004. The books feature dozens of stories and hundreds of illustrations chronicling the radical history of the city through stories of particular locations and the protests, gatherings, riots and other events that took place there. This page includes links to PDFs of chapters about four different places and their links to unwaged struggles for dignity and survival.
Thanks to authors, Jill and Jeff Sparrow, for permission to reprint the following chapters.
During 1906 weekly parades of hundreds of unemployed people were held prior to church services around the city. One was shut down after activists dared question the views of a conservative Presbyterian Scots Church’s reverend, leading to a storm of controversy.
Despite roughly a quarter of the labour force out of work in 1930 little help came from the government, leaving the unemployed to turn to charities for support. Whilst their help was generally welcomed, the parsimonious and patronizing “blame the victim” mentality of many welfare organisations was not, as evidenced by a 5 day picket held outside one Salvation Army soup kitchen due to overcrowding and inedible food.
The Unemployed Workers Movement, whose central headquarters and meeting place was at Proletarian Hall on Russell Street, carried out many demonstrations during the 1930s and actively resisted evictions.
With unemployment surging people began to protest and organize against poverty from the late 1970s onwards. Having been subject to a “lunch-in” protest by members of unemployed group Work For Today in October 1982 the elite Melbourne Club was occupied the following month during a mass march of unionists and the unwaged.
- Australia - Victoria - Melbourne
- History - Australia
- Movements_Campaigns - Labour_Worker's rights