The origins of child labour in Australia: a health and safety perspective
Between 1880 and 1907, child labour assumed a significance in Ausralia that overshadowed anything that came before or has come since. This reflected three factors. First, almost half the population was under 21years of age. Second, various industries could manage with low-cost, low-productivity labour. Finally, poor households valued child earnings. Of these three factors, the first was the most significant. Factories and education Acts, where passed, were ineffective in restricting the employment of children under unsafe working conditions. The decline in the incidence of child labour was primarily associated with a maturing of the nation's demographic profile. By 1907, there were far fewer children than previously. The operation of Commonwealth and state industrial courts also worked in favour of adult males. This article links the OHS consequences of child labour around the time of Federation with the emerging OHS risk that are evident today.
Journal of Occupational Health and Safety - Australia and New Zealand