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Research Guides


Commonwealth Government Records about South Australia


Refugee arrivals

During the most ambitious phase of the government's migration program, Australia negotiated agreements with other governments and international organisations to help achieve high immigration targets. One of these was an agreement with the International Refugee Organization to settle at least 12,000 displaced people a year from camps in Europe.

In later years, Hungarian and Czech refugees came to South Australia following unrest in 1956 and 1968, respectively. Chileans also came following the overthrow of the Allende government in 1973, Indochinese refugees arrived after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, and Polish refugees after martial law was declared in their country in December 1981.

Displaced Persons program

In 1947 Australia included in its migration program displaced persons who had been brought from eastern and central Europe during World War II to work in German industry, or had fled their homes in the face of occupation. Between 1947 and 1953 Australia received more than 170,000 such migrants under the Displaced Persons program.

Displaced persons who arrived in South Australia were often sent to immigration holding camps for the first weeks, such as Woodside, Pennington/Finsbury, Hendon, Smithfield, Mallala, Gawler and Salisbury (see 'Migrant accommodation').

Records held by the Archives relating to displaced persons include alien registration documents and cards, migrant selection documents, correspondence and nominal rolls.

Selected series that contain records relating to displaced persons and refugees in South Australia
Sydney, Adelaide
Recorded by: Department of Immigration, South Australia Branch
Alien registration documents, 1937–65 D4878
Correspondence files, 'SA/S', 1948–66 D400
Adelaide
Recorded by: Department of Immigration, South Australia Branch
Statements by alien passengers on entry to Australia, 1923–48 D4880
Alien registration cards, 1946–76 D4881
Ships nominal rolls (foreign), 1947–50 D2002
Woodside immigration holding camp nominal index cards, 1947–62 D343
Adelaide
Recorded by: Department of Labour and National Service, Branch Office/Regional Administration, South Australia
Correspondence files, 1945–54 D1917
Selected items relating to displaced persons and refugees in South Australia
Sydney
Displaced persons travel arrangements and initial placements, 1949–52 AP775/1, M3670
Adelaide
Immigration Act regarding admission of refugees into Australia, 1939 D596, 1939/1111
Displaced Persons Scheme Instructions, 1947–53 D1917, D47/47 PART 1
Displaced Persons Scheme Instructions, 1947–53 D1917, D47/47 PART 2
Displaced Persons Scheme Instructions, 1947–53 D1917, D47/47 PART 3
Displaced Persons Scheme Instructions, 1947–53 D1917, D47/47 PART 4
Displaced persons – survey to determine number of vacancies, 1949 D1917, D22/49
Employment of displaced persons – widows with children, 1950 D1917, D15/50
Displaced persons employed Salisbury area (includes 18 photographs of particular displaced persons), 1949–50 D1918, S1493/5/3
List of displaced persons from Commonwealth Migration Office Adelaide, 1948–49 D1976, SB1949/129PT1&2
Indochinese refugee arrivals, 1975–82 D399, SA1982/16021

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Chapter 10
Immigration and naturalisation