The Library is closed onsite, open online. See updates here.
During the 1930s, with persecution of European Jews on the rise, several international resettlement schemes proposed the purchase of tracts of land in various countries around the globe to provide safe havens for Jewish refugees.
In May 1939, the Freeland League for Jewish Territorial Colonists dispatched Isaac Steinberg (1888-1957) to investigate the feasibility of purchasing 7 million acres in far Northwestern Australia on which to settle 75,000 Jewish refugees. Known as the Kimberely Scheme, it was the intention of this project that Jewish settlers would develop the pastoral and agricultural industries of the sparsley populated region.
You can read more about the proposed Kimberely Scheme in this brochure printed in Sydney for the Freeland League for Jewish Territorialisation in about 1940.
Isaac Steinberg arrived in Western Australia in 1939 and immediately travelled up to the Kimberely in order to inspect the region and select the land for the proposed settlement. He then toured the country to rouse support for the scheme from Jewish and non-Jewish Australian community leaders.
You can read Isaac Steinberg's booklet promoting the Kimberley Scheme which was published in Melbourne in 1943:
You can read local reactions to the proposed Kimberley Scheme in the Australian press of the day:
In July 1944, however, though the Australian government was well aware that sparse population in the country’s north made it vulnerable to invasion, Prime Minister John Curtin advised the Freeland League that the Australian Constitution would not allow group settlement on this scale, and so the Kimberley Scheme did not proceed.