Servants of empire: The British training of domestics for Australia, 1926-31

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Social History, 2003, 28 (1), pp. 67 - 82
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Between 1926 and 1930 the Australian and British governments jointly funded a specialized centre at Market Harborough, England, to train women for domestic service. This centre was the first such institution specifically designed to prepare migrants for employment in a particular occupation in Australia. Although the number of graduates was not significant as a proportion of the domestic service workforce of Australia, and although the scheme was brought to a sudden end when the Depression stopped assisted migration generally, the experiment was important. It demonstrated that domestic servants could be drawn from a 'better type' if training could be applied to raising the status of the occupation. For the British and Australian governments this outcome satisfied a desire to use the assisted immigration of young women to increase the population of Australia and the empire, as well as underpinning a model of society in which bourgeois domesticity reigned.
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