‘FATIGUED’: 1000 days in detention for Tamil family
DESPITE the Central Queensland family spending more than 1000 days in detention, the Department of Home Affairs has firmly held its stance the Tamils, at the centre of a high profile asylum case is not owed protection.
Nades and Priya Murugappan came to Australia separately in 2012 and 2013 following Sri Lanka's civil war.
They married in 2014 and moved to Biloela where they had two children, Kopika, 5, and Tharunicaa, 3.
The family was detained by border force in a dawn raid on March 5, 2018, following a visa dispute.
They were then held in detention in Melbourne until August 2019 before being taken to the Christmas Island detention centre, where they have remained since, about to spend their third Christmas in detention.
Biloela resident and family advocate Angela Fredericks said she had campaigned for the Tamil family to be allowed to remain in the community while they awaited an ongoing lengthy court process.
"It's the government wanting the family to go 'this isn't worth it, we'll just go back'," Ms Fredericks said.
"What this shows time and time again is they don't have a safe country to go back to,
they're not in Australia for benefits or material gain.
"They're in Australia for safety."
She said some of the risks the family faced in Sri Lanka included the two young girls being taken for human trafficking.
With more than 1000 days passed and no clear end in sight Ms Fredericks said the family was "fatigued".
"There's such a loss of purpose," she said.
She said five-year-old Kopika was starting to realise the situation she was in.
"She sees her friends at school go off and do things after school and on weekends and their families are not followed by guards.
"She's asking difficult questions, showing frustration and anger that they can't come home to Biloela."
A Department of Home Affairs spokesperson said the department had held a firm stance on the family.
"The government's policy is clear; no one who attempts illegal maritime travel to Australia will be settled here," the spokesperson said.
"The family's claims to engage Australia's protection obligations have been comprehensively assessed on a number of occasions by the Department of Home Affairs, various merits review bodies and appealed through multiple courts including the Federal Court to the High Court.
"At no time has any member of the family been found to be owed protection."
They said the immigration detention placement was regularly reviewed and the family had access to health and welfare services, including age appropriate education for the children and recreational activities.
"A range of excursions continue to be offered to the family, including picnics, sightseeing and children's dance and yoga classes," they said.
"The family have access to the internet with a PC located in their accommodation.
"They can also readily contact family, friends, support network and lawyers via personal mobile phones and onsite landline phones, in addition to an account to make video calls."
They said it would be inappropriate to comment on the family's legal circumstances as there were matters still before the courts.
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Ms Fredericks said she was hopeful there would be an outcome to their court appeal in coming days.
Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd said the issue was "very complex."
"This is now an operational matter and before the courts it is difficult for me to comment any further," Mr O'Dowd said.