The years of the Great Depression and World War Two had been marked by austerity (making do with little) and struggle. But with the end of the war in 1945 the Chifley government turned to national projects, growing the population, building industry and defence. Government continued to control many aspects of life. Immigration was central to the growing economy, and British and European migrants were encouraged to come here with cheap passage and guarantees of work. Children born between 1946 and 1962 are known as 'Baby Boomers' - large families were encouraged.

In 1949 Robert Menzies became Prime Minister again. He campaigned on the need for the defence of Australia from the growing threat of Communism, and reducing government controls. By the 1950s Australia was becoming a stable and prosperous country in which most families could achieve 'the Australian Dream' of owning a home on a 1/4 acre block, maybe a car, and purchasing many of the new appliances developed by new technologies. Enormous amounts of construction lead to growth of suburbs and expansion of roads and highways.

Meanwhile globally, and among intellectuals and artists, modernism was the dominant influence - a rejection of traditional, conservative values and forms, for more provocative and uninhibited styles.This grew out of responses to two catastrophic wars, the Great Depression and the rise of nuclear weapons. Interestingly modernism, communism and aspects of the new youth culture saw many areas of overlap and similarity - creating a new world view greatly feared and opposed by the conservative majority.

More leisure time and greater affluence for many encouraged the development of new technologies, appliances and forms of entertainment. Social values however continued to be conservative for most Australians, with the focus on traditional families with 'stay-at-home' mothers and 'bread-winner' fathers. Ties with Great Britain and a sense of being part of the British Empire continued. However the USA now became a greater influence on popular culture thanks to the links made during the war and through film and TV.

Watch this promotional video made to market Australia to prospective migrants in Great Britain. What aspects of life and cuture are most emphasised?

Significant dates:
1950-53 - the Korean War [against communist north Korea]
1954 - the Petrov Affair - a Russian communist spy in Australia
1956 - TV broadcasts begin
1956 - Melbourne Olympic games

Key words:
prosperity affluence population growth/immigration British ties "Australian Dream" baby boomers construction suburban expansion technological advances TV conservative values leisure American influence

Use these web-sites for detailed information
music and entertainment look at 'other chapters' from SQUIRK on the right for more..
Look up Johnny O'Keefe on You Tube and watch classic video of this original Aussie rocker on TV.
Or watch this 1962 tv show - so popular with teenagers "6 o'clock rock"
Interested in the history of tv - want to see what was on in 1959?? Look here
useful dot point info at 'bored of studies'
Look for great footage and info about changes in media and technology...check out the relevant decades here by exploring the section called Wireless to Web (you may need to temporarily unblock pop-ups).
Saturday night dances were popular.
Saturday night dances were popular.

Look at these covers of The Australian Womens' Weekly...what do they show about values and interests and attitudes during the 50s?

back to Year 10 History topics