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FEDERATION TO WORLD WAR II: INFORMAL PROTECTION
At Federation persecuted people were able to settle in Australia, as long as they were not excluded by the restrictive criteria of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901, a centrepiece of the White Australia Policy.
In 1933, the League of Nations introduced a modest Refugee Convention setting out a series of rights and responsibilities of nations to asylum seekers and refugees. Nine countries signed on to this early human rights instrument.
While the exact number of refugees settling in Australia in the first half of the twentieth century is not certain, the Australian Parliamentary Library estimates that around 20,000 refugees settled in Australia between Federation and 1948.