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Trouble : Home

Themes and context from the short story Trouble by Kelly Gardiner

Trouble by Kelly Gardiner

LGBTQIA+ Communities in the 1950s

Source: Heritage Victoria

Second World War

During the Second World War, many Australian women joined the workforce, filling essential industry positions left vacant by men who had gone overseas to serve. In doing so, they performed duties that were usually considered part of the male domain, including farming, building and manufacturing. However, when men returned home at the end of the Second World War, women were pushed back into the home.


1950s – The Era of Suburban Housewives

The 1950s was marked by the image of the idealized suburban housewife, who was expected to find fulfillment solely within the home and family. Legal rights were limited, with many women struggling to secure financial independence. The pay gap was stark, with women’s minimum wage set at 75% of men’s wages.

School education focused on traditional “female” skills in sewing and cooking.

Once married, women were no longer allowed to be employed in education. This was called the 'Marriage Bar'.

Italian Communities and Migration in the 1950s

Family businesses were a common feature of the Italian migration experience. In cities, Italian-run bars and restaurants, served Italian espresso coffee and continental cakes. In most suburbs one would find an Italian greengrocer, general store, fishmonger, baker, delicatessen or boot maker.

The family and its associated rituals were and still are today, the basis of Italian life. While Italian migrants worked extremely long hours, Sunday was reserved as a day to spend with the family.


Australia in the 1950s

Map of Melbourne, 1954

Accessed from State Library of Victoria

Take a tour around a home in the 1950s. Where is the fridge, and what is an ice-box?! Why does the meat come wrapped in paper and string? And why did housework take so much longer than today?

Guided by Annabel Crabb, an Aussie family goes on a time-travelling adventure to discover how the food we eat transformed the way we live, the fabric of the nation and defined family roles - starting in post-war 1950s.

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