Gambling in Suburban Australia

Research Report – March 2019

Appendix C: Brief historical overview

Appendix C provides some historical context to the development of each site.

Site 1

Kurung-Jang-Balluk and Marin-Balluk people of the Kulin nation have been the traditional owners of the land on and around Site 1 for over 40,000 years. Following British settlement in the 1830s, the Sunshine area quickly become a manufacturing hub for Melbourne. Early industries established in the area included quarrying and meat processing, with carriage works, horsehair factories, piggeries and fireworks manufacturing. The establishment of the Sunshine Harvester Works, the then largest factory in Australia, followed in the early 1900s.

Advocacy for better wages and conditions within the manufacturing industries in Sunshine brought about basic working conditions. Notably, the 'Harvester Judgment' in 1907 established the concept of a minimum 'living' wage. Community concern around pollution problems such as noxious fumes and the dumping practices of various industries has been an ongoing issue in the Sunshine area (Ford, 2001, 2012).

Successive waves of post-war migrants from Europe provided labour for the factories. By 1961 over 55% of Sunshine workers were in manufacturing jobs, the highest proportion in the Melbourne metropolitan area. While in 1939, 90% of the population in the Sunshine area was from an Anglo-Celtic background, by 1979, 40% of the population was born overseas and Sunshine was one of the most diverse municipalities in Victoria. At this stage, migrants from the Mediterranean area, Eastern Europe, Asia and South America had settled in the area (Ford, 2012). More recently, new waves of migrants and refugees from Vietnam, Sudan and Somalia continue to contribute to the diversity of the Sunshine community. The top three countries of birth at the 2016 Census were Vietnam, India and Malta (ABS, 2017).

The development of suburban facilities and infrastructure in this area was slow, despite local residents' persistence in their struggle to obtain better funding from government. Initially, few settlement services were available for newly arrived migrants, and the absence of sealed roads, houses, schools and other amenities, demonstrated an under-investment in the area by successive governments. This lack of infrastructure became a defining characteristic of the area. Ill-equipped to deal with the high rate of population growth in the area, the area became known as 'the deprived west' (Ford, 2012). Public housing projects were eventually developed but were marred by issues around inappropriate land selection and poor quality construction. Sunshine Council protested in 1950 that these were 'not up to the standard of the average private home' and 'there would be an outcry if these houses were dumped in some other more fashionable suburb' (Ford, 2012).

In the 1970s, an economic downturn and the changing industrial landscape saw many factories initially scale back their operations, with many retrenchments. This was followed by large-scale factory closures, including the Sunshine Harvester Works (Ford, 2012).

The ongoing influx of both internal and newly arrived overseas migrants continues and, in 2016, 16% of the population in Site 1 was born in Vietnam (ABS, 2017).

Site 2

For over 40,000 years the Wurundjeri-Balluk people have been the traditional custodians of the land on and around Site 2. In the early 1800s, British and some German migrants were attracted by the cheap land prices and the area remained predominantly Anglo-Celtic until after World War II when Dutch migrants began to arrive.

A higher rainfall in this area than in the drier west (Alves, 2010) saw the land used for both residential and a variety of farming purposes (dairy, orchards, market gardens, flowers). Industries such as timber milling, blacksmithing, engineering and clay factories existed for over 100 years until the mid-twentieth century.

In residential terms, suburb building began in the Box Hill area in the late 1890s, with sealed roads, footpaths and street lighting. This was followed by electric power and reticulated water, deployed across the area in the early 1900s. In 1920, following an anti-liquor campaign by some politicians and churches, Box Hill was proclaimed as a "dry area".

In the mid 1950s, increased demand for urban expansion took over and residential suburbs in the leafy undulating east were preferred to the flat industrial west. With the area touted as offering 'suburban conveniences and country advantages' (Alves, 2010, p. 59), many farms and orchards were converted to suburban streets in the post-war period. Box Hill became the largest shopping and commercial centre in the area, as well as a major transport interchange (Alves, 2010). Industry also decreased as residential development expanded, with the closure of factories and the redevelopment of these sites into apartments beginning in the 1970s.

There is a long history of support for the visual and performing arts in this area as well as a long history of public activity and influential residents (Alves, 2010), for instance the state legislative seat of Nunawading was held by R. G. Menzies from 1929-34 before he entered federal politics to become Australia's longest serving prime minister (State of Victoria, n.d.).

In the 1970s there was increased migration from China and South East Asia. By 2016, 14% of Site 2 residents were born in China (ABS, 2017).