Australia in the 1960’s

The 1960s in context

  • On 4 July 1960, the quiz TV show Pick-a-Box began being sponsored by BP. It was one of the longest-running and most popular Australian TV programs.
  • In 1960, the Department of Native Affairs in Western Australia issued a directive to cease removing Aboriginal children from their parents to be placed on mission stations for education.
  • In 1960, the Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne was opened by the Victorian premier Henry Bolte, and became the largest shopping centre in Australia.
  • In 1960, less than five years after it arrived in Australia, nearly 70 per cent of homes in Sydney and Melbourne had television.
  • In 1962, the Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended to allow Indigenous Australians the right to enrol and to vote in federal elections.
  • In 1962, Robert Menzies opened the Sydney–Canberra–Melbourne coaxial cable system, the first major step in the direction of ‘subscriber trunk dialling’ (STD).
  • In April 1962, the official Sydney–Melbourne standard-gauge train left Sydney for Melbourne.
  • In 1963, an American physicist, Julius Sumner Miller (1909–87), appeared in his own science-based ABC TV series called Why is it So?
  • In 1964, at the height of Beatlemania, the Beatles toured Australia.
  • In May 1964, the Menzies government brought in legislation that provided for government financial grants to non-government schools for science-teaching facilities.
  • In November 1964, the Commonwealth Parliament reintroduced compulsory military service (the National Service Scheme) for 20-year-old men.
  • By 1965, both major political parties had removed ‘White Australia’ from their political platforms.
  • In June 1965, prime minister Robert Menzies declared that Australia was at war in Vietnam and announced the decision to send a battalion of combat troops to Vietnam.
  • In 1965, the Seekers folk group produced the single I’ll never find another you. It was the first Australian single to sell a million copies.
  • In January 1966 Sir Robert Menzies retired and was succeeded as prime minister and Liberal Party leader by the former treasurer, Harold Holt.
  • On 14 February 1966, the first banknotes of Australia’s new decimal currency were issued.
  • The year 1966 saw the first visit to Australia by a US president Lyndon Baines Johnston.
  • In May 1967, 90.8 per cent of Australian voters chose ‘Yes’ in a national referendum that proposed, firstly, to make laws apply to all Australians and not exclude Indigenous peoples, and secondly, to include Indigenous peoples in census counts.
  • On 17 December 1967, prime minister Harold Holt went swimming at Cheviot Beach in Victoria. He was never seen again and two days later was officially presumed dead. His remains have never been found. After Holt’s disappearance, John Gorton was elected as the new Prime Minister.
  • In 1968, in the face of mounting opposition to the war, prime minister John Gorton announced that no more Australian troops would be sent to Vietnam.
  • In the late 1960s, Australian television was connected to the international satellite system.
  • In 1969, the Parkes Radio telescope in NSW plotted the progress of the first crewed flight to the Moon and sent pictures of the Moon walk around the world.
  • In June 1969, the live rock musical Hair had its first performance in Australia at the Sydney Metro Theatre. In one scene, the cast appeared naked on stage.
  • In November 1969, the final section of the Sydney to Perth standard-gauge railway line was completed.
  • In December 1969, the Arbitration Commission granted women equal pay for equal work
Mindmap Summary of the 1960's Find out more about the 1960's at My Place for Teachers Find our more at ABC3 My Place Website.

How have schools in Australia changed since the 1960s?

Since the 1960s, Australian school have seen the following changes:

  • Slates have been replaced by paper and pencils.
  • Paper and pencils have been replaced by laptop computers.
  • Chalkboards have been replaced by whiteboards and even, in some cases, Interactive whiteboards.
  • Technological advances are incorporated more into lessons, in regard to lesson plans, preparation and presentation.
  • Corporal punishment has been abolished (in theory, at least) from all government-run schools and many private schools.
  • Classes are smaller.
  • Teacher aides have been introduced.
  • There has been more integration of the physically and mentally disabled into mainstream schools.
  • Buildings are modern and often air-conditioned.
  • There has been some separation into “Junior, Middle and Senior” schools.
  • Education syllabi have been altered to allow for the greater variety of jobs now available, and the fact that new technology constantly creates new jobs.
  • Educational theory has moved away from the idea of filling children’s heads with knowledge, and instead is geared more towards teaching children how to analyse and think, and how to support what they believe. It is more skills-based rather than knowledge-based.