The Shame of Sydney, by Norman K Dick

Sydney Morning Herald 25 July 1935

Sydney slums are certainly much smaller than those in the European capitals and the general poverty and wretchedness is not nearly as apparent. Yet the slum evil not only exists in Sydney but left unchecked will assume the worst elements of those haunts of vice and crime which have become such a menace to the older cities.

Sydney’s slum districts, commencing in Woolloomooloo Bay spread through Surry Hills, Paddington, Redfern, Newtown, Pyrmont, Balmain, Alexandria, Waterloo and Botany.

There are roughly three distinctive types of slum dwellers –

  • The unfortunates, unemployed through no fault of their own.
  • The idle unemployables who are naturally improvident and vicious or having lost their jobs have also lost their morale. They have no wish for honest employment.
  • Finally there are the employed who are on a very small wage and who live in the slums because they cannot afford to move anywhere else. These folk form a large proportion of the slum dwellers. They are generally decent kindly honest people who only live in such surroundings through the force of economic pressure.

The problem does not stand still. As time goes on the unfortunate and employed classes tend to become more and more contaminated by the Idle Unemployable.

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