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Australia’s Great Depression

July 19 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

$10 – $20.00

We are thrilled that Joan Beaumont, Professor Emerita of History at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University, will deliver our July lecture on her profound history of Australia’s Great Depression.

Beaumont says, ‘The pandemic has much common with the Great Depression. Australians today have confronted external threats, that neither they nor their governments could control. Everyone has had to dig deep for resilience. The pandemic like the Depression confirmed how important local and state loyalties are. Voters expected their leaders to protect them, and only them. However, there was one major difference in contrast to the Depression: today’s governments utilised sophisticated policy tools, well beyond the imagination of the Depression-era governments, to prevent the social disaster on the scale seen in 1929 – 1932.’How a nation shattered by the Great War survived the worst economic crisis it has ever faced.”

Some generations are born unlucky. Australians who survived the horrors of the Great War and the Spanish flu epidemic that followed were soon faced with the shock of the Great Depression. Today we remember long dole queues, shanty towns and destitute men roaming the country in search of work. With over a third of the workforce unemployed in 1932, Australia was one of the hardest hit countries in the world. Yet this is not the complete story. In this wide-ranging account of the Great Depression in Australia, Joan Beaumont shows how high levels of debt and the collapse of wool and wheat prices left Australia particularly exposed in the world’s worst depression. Threatened with national insolvency, and with little room for policy innovation, governments resorted to austerity and deflation. Violent protests erupted in the streets and paramilitary movements threatened the political order. It might have ended very differently, but Australia’s democratic institutions survived the ordeal. Australia’s people, too, survived. While many endured great hardship, anger, anxiety and despair, most ‘made do’ and helped each other. Some even found something positive in the memory of this personal and communal struggle. Australia’s Great Depression details this most impressive narrative of resilience in the nation’s history.

Joan Beaumont is also the author of the magisterial account of Australia’s experience of World War I, Broken Nation which, among other awards, won the 2014 Prime Minister’s History Award.

Buying the book

When you purchase a ticket to this event you will be given a code which will give you a $10 discount when you purchase a copy of Australia’s Great Depression from the RHSV bookshop.

Buying a ticket

When you purchase tickets to this event you will be sent an automatic email confirmation – if you don’t get this email please check your Junk Mail or Spam Mail folder as automatic emails often go astray and fall foul of ISP’s security settings.

If you are attending via Zoom we will send the Zoom log-in details 24 hours before the event. Once again, remember to check your Junk or Spam in-boxes.

‘Beaumont’s brilliant study is the comprehensive history of the Great Depression that we have been waiting for.’ Professor Stephen Garton AM, The University of Sydney

‘A magisterial account of an immense tragedy, told with authority, poignancy and drama.’ Frank Bongiorno, Professor of History, The Australian National University

‘A masterpiece by one of Australia’s most esteemed historians.’ David Day, historian


The numbers below include tickets for this event already in your cart. Clicking "Get Tickets" will allow you to edit any existing attendee information as well as change ticket quantities.
RHSV member in person
Choose this option if you an RHSV member and you intend to attend this event in person at the RHSV, 239 A'Beckett Street Melboune
$ 10.00
70 available
Non-member in person
Choose this option if you are not a member of the RHSV and would like to attend the lecture in person at the RHSV, 239 A'Beckett St, Melbourne
$ 20.00
78 available
RHSV member by Zoom
Choose this option if you are an RHSV member and you wish to attend this lecture via Zoom
$ 10.00
73 available
Non-member via Zoom
Choose this option if you are not an RHSV member and you'd like to watch the lecture via Zoom
$ 20.00
78 available


July 19
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
$10 – $20.00
Event Category:


Royal Historical Society of Victoria
03 9326 9288


RHSV Gallery Downstairs
239 A'Beckett St
Melbourne, Victoria 3000 Australia
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03 9326 9288