1930s Dutton Park Relief Camp

1930s Dutton Park Relief Camp

Stage Number: MBSH.02.01.12

Group: Southern

Local Study Area: Dutton Park-South Woolloongabba-Buranda

Epoch: Early 20th Century

Street Address: Dutton\'s Park, Dutton Park

Latitude & Longitude: -27.49683333,153.02372222

Time Link: 1937

Map Link: 1936

Image Time Point: 1936

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Unemployment reached 30% in Queensland during the Great Depression, and the state government introduced a relief system in which men worked on public works projects for one day per week. By July 1937 there were almost 5,000 such men living in Brisbane. Unemployed men with families could be housed in camps in places like Redcliffe and Southport, but accommodation for single men was difficult to find and large makeshift camps sprang up in public spaces at Victoria Park, Dutton Park, Mayne Junction railway sheds, and near the Boys Grammar School.

In 1937, the Dutton Park camp was described as having a ‘colourful profusion’ of the ‘most picturesque and best constructed tin and bag houses’, and some men slept in the open without blankets bags. Hundreds of men lived in the park, and the park seats were ripped up to provide firewood. The men shared food, and tobacco had to be strictly limited. The Courier-Mail campaigned against the camps, claiming that the men were a threat to ‘the good name of the city, its health, and public enjoyment of its parks and open spaces’. Local residents also wanted the camps removed. The numbers of relief workers fell as the economy improved, and by 1939 the relief work scheme was abolished.


Courier-Mail, 6 July 1937, 7 July 1937.; Truth, 11 July 1937; Qld Parliamentary Papers, ‘Annual Report, Income (Unemployment Relief) Tax Acts, 1930 to 1935’, 1938, Vol.2, p.18.

Image Citations

Homeless man sleeping on the ground at Dutton Park, 1937. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Record number: 106363.

Map References

Qimagery. Brisbane 1936. Scale: 1:11,000.