The Biloela family is safe at the moment



Priya and Nades Murugappan, and the children Kopika and Tharunicaa want to return to Biloela.

By Matthew Pearce

Biloela’s Murugappan family will be allowed to stay in Australia for at least three more months, but their future is still uncertain.

The Sri Lankan family have been waging a long legal battle to stay in the country since being evicted from their home in Biloela in 2018.

While children Tharnicaa and Kopika were born in Australia, parents Priya and Nades do not have citizenship as they were considered illegal arrivals.

In June, the Murugappans were given three-month transitional visas and allowed into community detention in Perth, after 18 months of detention offshore on Christmas Island.

Visas for Priya, Nades and Kopika expired on Wednesday September 22 but were extended for three months until December 22.

On Monday evening, the family took part in ABC’s Australian Story show, where they spoke about their experiences in war-torn Sri Lanka.

Priya recalled that the Sri Lankan army had gathered five people in her village, including her fiance. She was forced to watch them burn alive.

Nades remembers having a religious holiday in a temple at the age of 16, where he was forced to join the Tamil Tiger activists.

If the family returns to Sri Lanka, they fear that Nades will be arrested, tortured and killed for his past association with the group.

Family friend Angela Fredericks from Home to Bilo said the family was relieved to be able to stay in the community for another three months.

“Knowing that things can continue as they are and that they will not be returned to detention or sent back to Sri Lanka is certainly a very welcome outcome for us,” she said.

“Priya in particular was getting very stressed as we got closer and closer to the 22nd.

“Now that they know they’re safe for another three months, that weight is on their shoulders again. However, it will be the same situation in December, where it’s “what’s going on now?” “”

Thanks to her transitional visa, Nades was able to find a job and works as a housekeeper in the evenings.

“It has been a huge thing for him to come back to what he sees as the job of a husband and a father, of providing for his family. It has been great for his well-being, ”said Ms. Fredericks.

“Kopika went to school and Tharnicaa was kind. They’re just trying to give them the most normal life possible under some pretty strange circumstances.

But the family would much prefer to be at home with their friends in Biloela.

“They met some great people in Perth, but Priya keeps saying her community is Biloela,” she said.

“The family was able to settle in and feel safe in Biloela, wherever they have been since has been clouded by uncertainty and not knowing how long they will be there or what will happen next.”

Last month, the High Court denied a request for special leave from family lawyers that would allow four-year-old Tharnicaa to apply for a protection visa.

“While Priya, Nades and Kopika have received auction visas, which means they can travel, Tharnicaa is in community detention, which keeps them trapped in Perth,” Fredericks said.

“My hunch is that Tharnicaa was kept in community detention only so the family could not return to Biloela.”

Last month, the High Court denied a request for special leave from family lawyers that would allow four-year-old Tharnicaa to apply for a protection visa.

Ms Fredericks said the court had previously ruled that Tharunicaa’s claim lacked procedural fairness.

“The Minister of Immigration still has this brief about procedural fairness in front of him, but no one knows what he’s doing with it.

“In the end, it will always be up to the minister and we all continue to look forward to it.”

For Home to Bilo, the fight continues, with the group encouraging people to contact their MPs and let them know they want the Murugappan family home.


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