From a modest beginning, the industrial welfare movements inaugurated by several Melbourne business firms have grown into large undertakings, and the number of employees taking advantage of the establishments provided by their employers has increased rapidly.
About three years ago a large superphosphate firm bought an old homestead and five acres of ground facing the beach at Altona, and converted it into a picnic and camping ground for its employees. The response to the employers’ invitation was at first disappointing, only six families booking tents; but this year the number increased to 30, and there have been as many as 78 children in the camp at once.
The conduct of the estate is in the hands of Mr. J. C. Shoebridge, of the industrial welfare branch of the Y.M.C.A. Mr. Shoebridge has devoted eight years to the study of industrial welfare, and has made a personal investigation of the methods adopted in the big institutions in England, Scotland, and France, including those of Cadbury Bros. and Lever Bros. Ltd. In addition to his administrative work, Mr. Shoebridge renders first aid to the injured or indisposed, preserves harmony in the camp, and works strenuously to improve his little “kingdom.”
For a weekly rental of three shillings, a family—be it two or twenty—is provided with tent accommodation, floored, lighted, and weatherproof, and is entitled to all the privileges and conveniences of the camp. Cooking stoves are installed; water is laid on; and, in the case of families coming from the firm’s country branches, practically all the camp furnishings are supplied free of charge.
The back gate of the grounds opens on to a safe and clean beach, where little children may be seen splashing and playing nearly 300 yards from the shore. During the evenings, the campers gather in the large marquees or recreation rooms, where dances, concerts, and lectures are held, artists and lecturers being brought from the city for the occasion. In the homestead are the reading and writing rooms, games tables, piano, organ, and gramophone; and Mr. Shoebridge hopes that the attractions will shortly include a billiard table. Swings, badminton, and quoit sets, and games of all descriptions help to keep the children amused, and at regular intervals organised sports meetings are held.
Campers at the grounds yesterday spoke in glowing terms of the industrial welfare movement, and of the good work of Mr. Shoebridge and the Y.M.C.A. The grounds are gradually being set out in readiness for the laying of tennis courts and cricket pitches, and it is hoped that by degrees, new bungalows will take the place of the existing canvas accommodation.
Source: The Argus (Melbourne, Vic) Friday 19 Jan 1923, page 9