The Murugappan family is finally able to return to their home in Biloela after years in detention, Interim home affairs minister Jim Chalmers has announced today.
Chalmers said the family for four, including Priya and Nades Murugappan and their two young daughters, Kopika and Tharnicaa, can leave community detention in Perth, and return to the Queensland town of Biloela.
“Today, in my capacity as interim Minister for Home Affairs, I exercised my power under section 195A of the Migration Act 1958 to intervene in the case of the Murugappan family,” Chalmers said in a statement.
“The effect of my intervention enables the family to return home to Biloela where they can reside lawfully in the community on bridging visas while they work towards the resolution of their immigration status, in accordance with Australian law.”
“This decision will allow them to get ‘home to Bilo’, a big-hearted and welcoming Queensland town that has embraced this beautiful family.”
The Murugappan family has spent the past four years in detention across different locations including Melbourne, Christmas Island and most recently in community detention in Perth.
The family has been unable to leave Perth since the medical evacuation of Tharnicca from detention on Christmas Island last year ,when she suffered a dangerous blood infection. At a Perth hospital, Tharnicca was diagnosed with a blood infection caused by untreated pneumonia. At the time it was reported her parents’ requests for appropriate medical care on Christmas Island were denied for more than 10 days.
Priya and Nades Murugappan came to Australia separately in 2012 and 2013, after fleeing war-torn Sri Lanka and were granted bridging visas before settling in Biloela. Their two daughters were both born in Australia, in 2015 and 2017.
In 2018, after their visas expired, their home in Biloela was raided by Australian Border Force and they were taken to detention in Melbourne and eventually Christmas Island.
The previous Morrison government attempted to have the family deported in 2019 which was only stopped by a last minute, late night injunction. Alex Hawke, the immigration minister in the Morrison government, refused to use his ministerial discretion to allow them home.
The family received widespread community support and their situation and ongoing court battle sparked the ‘Home to Bilo’ campaign that advocated for their return to Biloela.
Labor said throughout the election campaign they would make it a priority to return the family to Biloela when they were elected.