Australia in the 1880s


In April 1880, the NSW premier Sir Henry Parkes was successful in bringing about a new education act called the Public Instruction Act 1880, in which the NSW government took responsibility for the primary years of education. State assistance to denominational schools was ended and government schools were placed under a Public Schools Board with the purpose of providing technical schools for boys, and evening schools and high schools for boys and girls. The Department of Public Instruction inherited 1265 schools: 150 denominational, 705 public, 313 provisional and 97 half time. State education became secular and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 14 years, and the teaching of religion in these schools was not allowed.

The front cover of School Work by JF Gladman, published in 1886, provided teaching guidelines and educational principles for teachers.

A snapshot of 1888

  • January
    • Non-Indigenous Australians celebrate 100 years of colonial settlement.

  • May
    • A demonstration against Chinese immigration takes place outside Sydney Town Hall and a month later an Intercolonial Conference on the Chinese question is held.
    • In Queensland, Thomas Glassey becomes the first trade union candidate in any colonial parliament.

  • December
    • The Centennial International Exhibition opens in Melbourne in the newly built Royal Exhibition Building.
    • Henry Lawson's first story, His Father's Mate, is published.
    • The women's magazine, The Dawn, begins publication with editorials by Louisa Lawson, mother of Henry Lawson, and advocates voting rights for women and divorce law reform.
    • It also included household hints, a short story and poetry as well as fashion news. Established by Louisa it was prepared and printed by women.


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