Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

Skip to content

Exhibitions

  • In Her Gift: Women Philanthropists in Australian History
  • Stirrers with Style! Presidents of the National Council of Women of Australia and its predecessors
  • The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia

Use Trove to find more resources by/about this Woman

  • Trove

Brookes, Ivy (1883 - 1970)

Born
14 July 1883
South Yarra, Victoria, Australia
Died
27 December 1970
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Occupation
Advocate, Community worker, Musician, Philanthropist, Women's rights activist and Women's rights organiser
Alternative Names
  • Deakin, Ivy (maiden name, 14 July 1883 - 3 July 1905)

Summary

The daughter of former Prime Minister Alfred Deakin, and wife of public official Herbert Brookes, Ivy Brookes played an active part in Australian political life. She occupied a central role in the National Council of Women; the Housewives' Association; the International Club of Victoria; the Women's Hospital; and in various boards and committees at the University of Melbourne. A talented musician, she won the Ormond Scholarship for singing in 1904, and played first violin for Professor Marshall Hall's Orchestra at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.

Details

Back home from the United States in 1931, the 'clever, attractive, Titian-headed' Mrs Brookes, auburn hair swept across her forehead and a posy pinned to her lapel, was profiled by the Dominion. The strong features and somewhat sombre expression belied a 'fluent speaker' who was 'brimming with a keen sense of fun', and the author couldn't help but note 'what a great help she must be to her clever husband, a woman with brains, charm, and filled with the desire to help everything in need - nothing could be more suited for the wife of a trade diplomat'.

Ivy Brookes was the eldest daughter of Alfred and Pattie Deakin. Her husband, Herbert, was secretary of Austral Otis, later Chairman of the Chamber of Manufactures, and served on the Commonwealth Board of Trade. He was appointed Commissioner-General for Australia in the United States from 1923 to 1930, and was Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Ivy was involved in charitable work from an early age. Her mother, Pattie, gave much of her own time and energy to child welfare services and to charities for Australian servicemen and, like Ivy, took part in the kindergarten and playgrounds movements. When Ivy returned in January 1931 from that fifteen-month stay in the United States, she reported to the National Council of Women and the Children's Welfare Association on her extensive investigation of child welfare services there.

Ivy's particular passion, though, was for music. She relinquished the Ormond Scholarship at the University's Faculty of Music upon her marriage to Herbert in 1905, but continued to support the Faculty, serving as a council member from 1926 to 1969. Described by Professor Bernard Heinze as the 'fairy godmother' of the Conservatorium of Music, Ivy was responsible, with Herbert, for financing a new wing there in memory of Marshall Hall in 1935. Alongside Sidney Myer, Keith Murdoch and Norman Brookes, both Ivy and Herbert were members of the Orchestra Advisory Committee which was convened in 1933 in order to oversee the amalgamation of the Marshall Hall Orchestra and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Ivy was also a member of the Lady Northcote Permanent Orchestra Trust Fund, and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra ladies' committee. In 1924 she was credited by Sir James Barrett, Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, with having increased the funds of the Lady Northcote orchestra from £4,000 to £10,000. An article in the Australian in 1928 claimed that 'Mr and Mrs Brookes have shown their practical sympathy with musicians who are finding it not an easy matter to get their feet on the ladder of fame, just as their collection of the works of Australian artists is testimony to their practical patronage of another field of art'.

In addition to supporting music and the arts, Ivy and Herbert Brookes were strong supporters of the University of Melbourne, and of intellectual life in general. Ivy was a member of the Board of Studies in Physical Education at the university for thirty years, and a member of the Board of Social Studies for over twenty-five years. She was involved with the women's auxiliary for International House, a residential college. Herbert was a representative of donors to Trinity College. Indeed, the Brookes home in South Yarra, Winwick, was described by Trinity's warden, Alexander Leeper, as 'the chief intellectual power house in Melbourne'. There Ivy and Herbert held the musical and literary activities of their T.E. Brown Society. In 1928, Ivy hosted a visit from Miss Royden of England, the 'world-famous woman preacher' who edited The Common Cause, the official organ of British women suffragists.

Ivy took an active part in social and political life. She joined the League of Nations Union and the National and International Councils of Women. She was founder of the International Club of Victoria in 1933, serving as president until 1958. She was a member of the Women Justices' Association, and of the Playgrounds' and Housewives' Associations of Victoria. She served on the board of the Women's Hospital for a monumental fifty years. Between 1931 and 1961, Ivy served as Director of the Bureau of Social and International Affairs. She was honorary secretary of the women's section of the Commonwealth Liberal Party until the National Federation formed to incorporate all sections, at which point she concluded that the new organisation did not give fair representation to women.

Ivy Brookes was involved with just about every voluntary organisation open to her. An overview of her activities paints a valuable portrait of the times. It is illustrative, in particular, of a leaning toward American influences, a shift in philanthropic priorities, and a strengthening independence in women's philanthropy.

Events

1903 - 1915
First violin with Professor Marshall Hall's Orchestra
1904
Winner of the Ormond Scholarship for Singing
1908 - 1960s
Executive member of the Lady Northcote Permanent Orchestra Trust Fund
1915
Founded the Housewives' Co-operative Association of Victoria
1927 - 1929
President of the Royal Women's Hospital Board
1931 - 1961
Director of the Bureau of Social and International Affairs
1933 - 1958
Founder and president of the International Club of Victoria
1934 - 1938
President of the Royal Women's Hospital Board
1938 - 1970
Foundation member of the Board of Studies in Physical Education at the University of Melbourne
1939 - 1945
President of the National Council of Women of Victoria
1941 - 1967
Foundation member of the Board of Studies in Social Studies at the University of Melbourne
1944 - 1970
President of the Playgrounds & Recreation Association of Victoria
1945 - 1963
Vice-president of the United Nations Association of Victoria
1948 - 1952
President of the National Council of Women of Australia
1952 - 1960
Commonwealth member of the Import Licensing Committee

Sources used to compile this entry: Legge, J S (ed.), Who's Who in Australia 1968, The Herald and Weekly Times, Melbourne, 1968, 956 pp; Lemon, Barbara, 'In Her Gift: Activism and Altruism in Australian Women's Philanthropy, 1880-2005', PhD thesis, School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne, 2008; Biographical note from the Papers of Herbert Brookes, manuscript collection at the National Library of Australia; 'Interesting Life: Trade Diplomat's Wife: American Impressions', Dominion, 13 January 1931; '"At Home: at Winwick to welcome Miss Maude Royden', Table Talk, 28 June 1928; 'Our Public Women', Australian, 12 May 1928. See also: Mollie Campbell-Smith Papers, Private Collection, Launceston, Tasmania; and - NCWA Quarterly Bulletin.

Related entries

Friend and Colleague

Archival resources

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Alfred Deakin Papers, [manuscript]. 1804-1973 (bulk 1880-1919), 1804 - 1973, MS 1540; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details
  • McEwan, Kitty; Letter, [manuscript], 26 October 1967, NLA 2867; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details
  • Papers of Herbert and Ivy Brookes, 1869 - 1970, MS 1924; Papers of Herbert Brooks; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details
  • Papers of various Australian women, MS 842; Rapke, Julia; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details
  • Records of the National Council of Women of Australia, 1924-1990 [manuscript], 1924 - 1990, MS7583; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details
  • Records of the National Council of Women of Australia, 1936-1972 [manuscript], 1936 - 1972, MS 5193; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

Digital resources

Title
Ivy Brookes
Type
Image

Details

Title
Mrs Brookes speaks on behalf of the National Council of Women, 1950
Type
Image
Date
1950
Source
National Library of Australia, Kenneth Bailey Papers: http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an23218462

Details

Title
Mrs Brookes addressing the 1952 Conference of the Australian National Council of Women
Type
Image
Date
1952
Source
Courtesy of National Council of Women of Australia

Details

Jane Wilkinson and Barbara Lemon

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

© Copyright in The Australian Women's Register is owned by the Australian Women's Archives Project
and vested in each of the authors in respect of their contributions from 2000

http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0514b.htm

The Australian Women's Register is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

The Australian Women's Register is published quarterly by the Australian Women's Archives Project
ISSN 2207-3124