Land of the Long Weekend


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1994, 55 Minutes

Part of Australian Experience, The series. Other episodes include: Populate or Perish and Sheep’s Back

Australia—first in the world to institute a 40-hour working week; first to say there was such a thing as a fair and reasonable wage. Conditions like these helped to win Australia its reputation as a “workers’ paradise”; the mythical “land of the long weekend”.

Now in the face of deregulation and restructuring, long-term unemployment and 24-hour trading, does the Australian future hold any weekend at all?

This film examines how, since white settlement, Australians have structured, and restructured, their time. Despite some basic inequalities, Australia was a new nation trying to throw off the conditions of the Old World. Even two world wars and severe economic depression could not deter Australians from pursuit of “the fair go”. By the 1950s most middle class Australians lived in an ordered, protected, prosperous world of school, employment, Saturday afternoon sport and the Sunday roast.

Yet today Australia is following the global trend towards a population divided between the overworked and the underemployed. The old 9 to 5 certainties are no longer in place. People work from home via computer; shop in non-stop trading supermarkets seven days a week; and online 24 hours a day. Overtime has increased and penalty rates are disappearing.

Have Australians lost sight of the need to balance work and play, in their drive to be productive, flexible and efficient? Have we abandoned the idea of “the fair go”?

A Film Australia National Interest Program. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.


Director: Sue Brooks

Year: 1994

Running Time: 55 Minutes

Classification: G

Curriculum Links: Business Studies (Business Management/Industry and Enterprise); Australian Economic History; Major themes and concepts include work and unemployment, leisure, social change, the trade union movement; SOSE (Globalisation).



SKU 199201400
Brand Film Australia

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