After four years, the Murugappan family returns to Biloela


A family of TAMIL asylum seekers held in immigration detention for four years are on their way home to Biloela in central Queensland with best wishes from friends, supporters and the agency. local services, Vinnies.

This morning the Murugappan family flew from Western Australia to Queensland, where they will live in the community on bridging visas while their immigration case is resolved in court.

Priya, her husband Nades and their daughters Kopica, 6, and Tharnicaa, 4, were greeted by media as they arrived at Perth Airport.

Priya Murugappan expresses her thanks as she speaks to reporters at Perth Airport.

“My family and I are very happy to begin our journey back to my community in Bilo,” said Priya Murugappan, adding her thanks to the community in Western Australia, where the family has spent the past 12 months.

Priya Murugappan also thanked staff at Perth Children’s Hospital. Her youngest daughter, Tharnicaa, was treated there for a blood infection after being evacuated from Christmas Island one year ago.

Vinnies in Biloela, where Priya had worked as a volunteer, was among many well-wishers as the family returned home.

“We welcome the Murugappan family to the Biloela community. Our St Vincent de Paul members in Biloela are excited about the news and will continue to work with the community to support the family as they return home,” said Vinnies Queensland CEO Kevin Mercer.

Tharnicaa will celebrate its fifth anniversary in Biloela on Sunday. She was only nine months old when the family first entered detention.

Distressed: Tharnicaa Murugappan in Christmas Island Hospital on June 6 last year – before being flown to Peth for treatment. Kopika (her sister) comforts her with a kiss. Photo (provided).
Detention on Christmas Island: The Murugappan family during their stay on the island to fight deportation to Sri Lanka.

The Murugappan family are expected to arrive in Biloela on Friday in time for the town’s weekend, multicultural Flourish festival, which is already billed as a welcome party.

The family went through four years of legal proceedings to try to stay in Australia. They were taken from Biloela, moved to Melbourne, then to Christmas Island.

They were held in the island’s detention center for two years until Immigration Minister Alex Hawke transferred them to community detention in Perth in mid-2021.

A change of government allowed their return to Biloela.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was proud the family was returning home.

“We caught this family in the middle of the night, took them to Melbourne, then took them to Christmas Island, then they ended up in Perth,” he said on Wednesday.

“These little girls, born in Australia, not only have mental health issues, but also physical health issues.”

Biloela demonstration
Community support: A Home to Bilo petition started by the people of Biloela has gained support across Australia.

Members of the Biloela community rallied to support the family, and a “Home to Bilo” campaign resulted in nearly 600,000 people signing a petition in their favour.

One of the campaign leaders was Angela Fredericks, a local mental health social worker and Anglican parishioner.

In 2019, as the ‘Home to Bilo’ campaign gained momentum, she posted on social media: “All my life I have been a Christian and spent my whole life learning more about Jesus , the son of God who stood up for the oppressed, marginalized, or poor. He often challenged leaders and political figures, even though he knew it would impact his reputation and advancement, ultimately costing him his life. Jesus fought not only to transform the lives of individuals, but to change the systems that perpetuate inequality, poverty, exclusion and exploitation.

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