Publication Details

Martinez, J. T. 2005, ''When wages were clothes: dressing down Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory'', in N. Balnave, G. Patmore & J. Shields (eds), The Past is Before Us: Proceedings of the Ninth National Labour History Conference, Australian Society for the Study of Labour History and the Business and Labour History Group, The University of Sydney, Australia, pp. 175-182.


Prior to the introduction of equal wages in the 1960s, it was not unusual for Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory to be paid in kind; in basic food, clothing and tobacco. Some workers received a few shillings a week, but even this wage could be withheld. In keeping with the protectionist ethos, clothing was encouraged as a substitute for cash wages, but in practice employers rarely equated clothing with wages. This paper explores the perspectives of pastoralists, employers of domestic servants, and the Army, considering how clothing primarily catered for the employers' needs.

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National Labour History Conference



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