Living and Working Conditions at the Turn of the Century.

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The living and working conditions in Australia, at the start of the century depended very much on which social class a person belonged to because the society followed ‘laissez-faire’ policies, that is, the government interfered little in economic affairs and left people to look after themselves. Therefore, between the rich and the poor there were enormous differences in living conditions such as education, health and hygiene and in particular leisure. For average Australians work was very laborious, and in some cases even dangerous, and many employees were treated no better than slaves. Even though working conditions, hours and wages were harsh, they were much better than those of other industrial countries, making Australia known as a ‘working man’s paradise.’ How comfortable your life was depended on your social class. There were three main classes to which a person could belong, the upper-class, who were very rich and owned large amounts of land, large businesses or had otherwise inherited their wealth, the middle class, which was made up of small shop keepers or people who had professional occupations such as teachers, lawyers and accountants, or were self employed, and the working class, who generally worked under a boss in a manual job. Most people belonged to this class. They didn’t have the opportunities in life that the upper-class did and they lived much harder lives. The rich and poor received different degrees of education. All children attended primary school, where they were taught basic reading, writing and arithmetic. Most left school at the age of twelve and went to work, but those who could afford it moved on to secondary school. From 1911, males between the ages of twelve and twenty six were forced to do military training. Until the age of fifteen, you were a junior cadet, which usually involved marching practice around the school playground. Boys then became cadets until they did full training when they turned eighteen. There were many health...
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