Settling down
: the role of housing in the Commonwealth's Northern Territory

  • Janet Hazel Whitehead

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    The research aim was to understand how the cultural role of housing in the Commonwealth Government’s administration of the Northern Territory contributed to perceptions of the Territory’s cultural difference. The timeframe was the period that the Commonwealth controlled the Territory, both politically and administratively, beginning with its transfer in 1911 and ending with the election of the first Northern Territory Legislative Assembly in 1974. This history argues that the three roughly chronologically sequential themes of settling the Northern Territory, civilising the frontier and normalising living conditions influenced how the Commonwealth administered the Territory, and contribute to understanding why housing developed so differently to the national pattern. The separate and inadequate housing sector in the Territory’s Aboriginal communities and absence of agreed cohesive ameliorative measures are the unambiguous continuing legacies of the Commonwealth’s administration of the Territory’s housing development.

    Australian housing was part of the economic development process with developed industries helping to fund and initiate infrastructure, like housing. However, because the Territory was entirely dependent on the Commonwealth for initiation and funding of economic projects and there were few examples of this successfully occurring, adequate housing did not become an intrinsic part of the Territory’s development. There was also considerable disparity between Commonwealth Government rhetoric and resourcing to implement policies. The systemic exclusion of the Territory’s Aboriginal peoples from economic development imperatives, in addition to anthropologically inspired ideas of their cultural separation, combined to mean that Aborigines were segregated from any improvement in Territory living conditions in the time frame that led into negotiating terms of selfgovernment.
    Date of Award2007
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDavid Carment (Supervisor)

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