Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

Mr William Kennedy recalls collecting the dole at Liverpool Town Hall during the Depression, interviewed in 1986

Mr William Kennedy was born in 1910 and was interviewed in 1986 for the 'Looking Back at Liverpool: An Oral History of the Liverpool Region 1900 to 1960.' He remembers crowds of men gathering to collect the dole at Liverpool Town Hall during the Great Depression.

WILLIAM: The point of issue for the dole was the old police station. It was taken over then by the Department of Labour and Industry, they administered it. Then there was that many coming on to the dole that they had to move then to Liverpool Town Hall. And the crowds kept increasing. More and more were coming on the dole. You were issued with a dole ticket, not money. You had to wait until your name was called and you'd walk up through the crowd of people, get your dole ticket which was worth five shillings, later it increased to seven [shillings] and sixpence. Then you could only get the items that were listed on that ticket: bread, meat and so forth. Then on the other side of the ticket was a list of alternate items if the others weren't available. Men would be sitting around the Town Hall in the hundreds and they'd be addressed at different times by agitators. There were always these people coming along. And the names of some of the leading Communists that came along at that time were [Tom] Payne, [Jack] Sylvester, and Bella Weiner, she was a woman, a Jewess. Men were more receptive to listening because of their position, they listened very attentively to these fellows and a lot of them thought that was where their hopes lay.

Contributed By
(Excerpt from interview with Mr William Kennedy, from the 'Looking back at Liverpool : an oral history of the Liverpool region 1900-1960' conducted in 1986 by Liverpool City Council, editor and project co-ordinator Catherine Johnson ; researchers Angela Imbrosciano, Verica Miiosavijevic, Kathleen Smith)