Biloela asylum seeker family set to return home after Labor win


Tamil asylum-seeker family set to return to Biloela thanks to Labor win after they were detained on Christmas Island for three years: ‘Many happy tears were shed’

  • The Tamil asylum-seeker family have rejoiced Labor’s election win on Saturday 
  • Priya, Nadesalingam, Kopika, and Tharnicaa Murugappan will be able to go home
  • The family were taken from Biloela and sent to Christmas Island in August 2019 
  • They have been living in limbo about whether or not they will be sent to Sri Lanka
  • Photos show them happily embracing after learning they will go back to QLD

A Tamil asylum-seeker family have broken down in tears as they rejoice the incoming Labor government who promised they will be able to go home to Queensland.

Priya and Nadesalingam Murugappan and their two Australian-born daughters, Kopika and Tharnicaa, have been fighting to return to their home in Biloela after spending three years in detention on Christmas Island.

The family, of which the three eldest members have been granted bridging visas, have been living in Perth awaiting their fate since Tharnicca had to be medically evacuated from the island in June.

A statement from Angela Fredericks, of the Home To Bilo campaign, said the family were overjoyed by the election result due to what it means for them. 

‘Mr Albanese has promised to allow our friends Priya, Nades and their girls Kopi and Tharni to return home to Biloela,’ she said.

‘We just called Priya in Perth and told her she and her family were coming home.

Priya and Nadesalingam Murugappan and their two Australian-born daughters, Kopika and Tharnicaa,  (pictured) have reportedly shed ‘happy tears’ after Labor’s historic election win on Saturday

‘Many happy tears were shed.’ 

Ms Fredericks said the family’s ‘long, painful saga’ had finally come to an end.

‘This family has been taken away from their home for more than four years,’ she said.

‘They never should have been taken from the town that loved and needed them.

‘As they make the long journey to Biloela to resume their lives here they also commence a journey of recovery and healing.’

Priya and Nadesalingam, who goes by the nickname Nades, came to Australia separately by boat more than a decade ago to escape the civil war in Sri Lanka.

They were granted bridging visas and settled in Biloela, in Central Queensland, where their daughters were later born. 

However, their lives were upheaved in August 2019 when their bridging visas expired and the family were sent to Christmas Island, where they became the sole residents.

The move sparked widespread outrage as their community and supporters across Australia rallied to have the family brought home. 

Last year, the family were brought back to mainland after Tharnicaa suffered a life-threatening blood infection and was taken to Perth for hospital treatment. 

She was accompanied by her mother before her father and sister were later flown into Western Australia so the family could be reunited. 

The Tamil family have been in a high-profile battle to remain in Australia after spending years in detention

The Tamil family have been in a high-profile battle to remain in Australia after spending years in detention

Anthony Albanese vanquished Scott Morrison to become only the fourth Labor leader to win government from opposition since World War II

Anthony Albanese vanquished Scott Morrison to become only the fourth Labor leader to win government from opposition since World War II 

The family have since been living in limbo as to whether or not they would be forced to return to Sri Lanka in September, when the three bridging visas are due to expire.

NZ-based journalist Rebekah Holt tweeted a photo of Priya and the two girls wearing red, Labor’s campaign colour, as they received the news from the Home Bilo via a video call that they would be able to return to Queensland.

A video posted in the comments showed the two relieved parents embracing as Nades received the news Scott Morrison had conceded as he arrived back at their Perth community detention facility at 9pm from work.  

As they celebrate Anthony Albanese becoming the 31st Australian prime minister, Ms Fredericks said the family thanked fellow Aussies for their support. 

‘Hundreds of thousands of Australians have opened their hearts to this family,’ she said.

‘We know Priya is incredibly grateful to all of them.’ 



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