Dr Mickey Dewar
Frederick Watson Fellow 2007
Topic: An examination of the characteristics and attributes of postwar Darwin, through a detailed and multidisciplinary study of Commonwealth public housing policy
Dr Dewar presented her findings in a public lecture at the National Archives in Canberra on 28 October 2008.
Mickey Dewar has worked and published in Northern Territory history for nearly thirty years. Two of her books have been short-listed for the NSW Premier’s History Awards for Community and Regional History. In 1998 she also received the Jessie Litchfield Award for Literature. Her career has been diverse including teaching in Arnhem Land, a postdoctoral fellowship at the Northern Territory University (now Charles Darwin University), and working as a political adviser and contract historian. For many years she was Curator of Territory History at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, responsible for the heritage management of a number of listed sites including Fannie Bay Gaol and Lyons Cottage. She has also curated a number of exhibitions including the development of the permanent Cyclone Tracy Gallery.
She is currently working as a freelance historian and museums policy consultant based in Darwin, and teaching northern Australian history at Charles Darwin University. She was the recipient of a Northern Territory government history grant in 2007.
The focus of Dr Dewar's research for the Frederick Watson Fellowship was an examination of the characteristics and attributes of postwar Darwin through a detailed and multidisciplinary study of Commonwealth public housing policy.
This paper presents a history of housing in Australia's northern capital in the 1950s, exploring the stories and circumstances of the people who lived there. Darwin, a city affected by cyclones and bombing, was particularly unstable during this decade.
The challenge for the federal government in the postwar years was to normalise the Northern Territory and rebuild the town of Darwin – to create a place that people could call home.