Ivy Brookes

Ivy Brookes founded the first Housewives' Association in Australia in 1915.

Honour Roll

Ivy Brookes was born in South Yarra, Victoria, in 1883, the eldest daughter of Pattie and Alfred Deakin, the second Prime Minister of Australia. She was educated privately and at Merton Hall. Mixing in a circle of political and intellectual figures, she married Herbert Brookes, a friend of her father's, in 1905. They shared a strong interest in politics, and were both involved in many community and political organisations.

In 1933, Ivy founded the International Club of Victoria and was its president until 1958, when it disbanded. She was a foundation member of both the Boards of Studies in Physical Education and Social Studies at the University of Melbourne.

In June 1915, Ivy convened a meeting of women from a variety of political groups, and began the Housewives' Co-operative Association of Victoria, the first association of its kind in Australia. The Association was primarily a consumer association specifically for women. In its early manifestation, the Housewives' Association presented a challenge to capitalism, buying wholesale foodstuffs and distributing them, and providing discounts for members. It drew on the ideals of the co-operative movement in Britain and also lobbied on the civil status of women.

Later in the century, the Association was active in politics, supporting women candidates, and education policy, advocating domestic science in schools and the education of 'young housewives' in women's citizenship. The movement grew to have associations in each state, and at its peak in the early 1960s had about 200,000 members nationally.

Ivy also held executive positions in the National Council of Women, the International Council of Women, League of Nations Union, the Empire Trade Defence League, the Playgrounds and Recreation Association, and the United Nations Association. For 50 years she was on the Board of the Women's Hospital.

Ivy's other passion was music. Her talent led her in 1904 to win the Ormond Scholarship for singing and she played in Marshall Hall's orchestra from 1903-13. She was also a foundation vice-president of the ladies' committee of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as well as a member of the University of Melbourne faculty of music from 1926-69.

She died on 27 December 1970.