Workers Educational Association (Adult Education Offices)

Workers Educational Association  (Adult Education Offices)

Name: Workers Educational Association (Adult Education Offices)

Group: Institutional Location

Type: Cultural Community of Education

Years at Location: 1910-1951 TBA

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Professor Mayo, an early industrial psychologist, used the WEA as a social laboratory. In the United Kingdom, the WEA was an alliance between Edwardian social liberals, Fabian socialist, and members of the Social Christianity movement. Its aims were educational reforms for the working classes, and, in its original intention, the challenge was to hold the tension between moderate economic theory and radical social reform. Among its intellectuals and former British WEA Presidents were William Temple (1909) and R.H. Tawney (1928). The politics of the local WEA did not work according to the Centrist frame. It was increasingly ostracized by the Queensland Labor right-wing; Premier Forgan-Smith cut-off government funding to the Association in the early 1930s. On the other hand, the WEA increasingly became a tool of the Brisbane conservative elite to pacify the working classes through Mayo’s philosophy, which held to the view that industrial strife was a matter of individual psychological problems.

Impact on Brisbane Society

The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) of Queensland was formed in Brisbane in 1913 after the visit of Albert Mansbridge, the founder of the Association in Great Britain. The local Association was linked into the University of Queensland, particularly from the work of Elton Mayo.


OM64-13 Workers Educational Association of Queensland Records 1913-1932, 1913 – 1932, OM64-13; Workers’ Educational Association of Queensland (1913 – 1932); John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland.

Further research is underway.

Image Citations

Back To School Again. Brisbane Telegraph, Saturday 19 November 1949, p. 28. NLA Trove