Tamil family on Christmas Island.
Tamil family on Christmas Island.

Tamil family still left in limbo

The next step in the legal battle to allow a Tamil family to remain in Biloela is “up in the air” but a $206,000 court-ordered payment will fund its progress.

At the same time a petition calling for politicians to bring the “family home to Bilo” has amassed about 300,000 signatures.

The Federal Government was this week ordered to pay the $206,000 legal costs after the Federal Court ruled the asylum bid for two-year-old Tharunicaa was not “afforded procedural fairness”.

Tharunicaa, her sister Kopika, 4, and parents Priya and Nades Murugappan have been living at the Christmas Island detention centre since August 2019 after being taken to immigration detention in Melbourne in March 2018 when their four-year bridging visa expired.

The Tamil family fear persecution in Sri Lanka and have fought and lost numerous court battles to remain in Australia.

The Federal Government has maintained they are not genuine asylum seekers.

While three family members have exhausted their legal avenues, the recent court decision prevents the family from being deported until the process for Tharunicaa is resolved.

Biloela resident and family advocate Angela Fredericks said the legal team was now looking at all legal options.

She said the costs awarded would keep the lawyers on board and pay expenses.

Up until now legal costs have been covered by the family’s supporters in Biloela and around Australia, but raising further funds would have been difficult with people struggling through the COVID-19 situation, Ms Fredericks said.

“This money gives surety to continue,” she said.

Ms Fredericks visited the family on Christmas Island in February and said, with Kopika’s fifth birthday coming up, it would mark her third birthday in detention.

She said the family were finding it hard but faring well and spending their days trying to occupy the children.

“We can all appreciate now what it feels like to be locked up,” she said.

Tamil Refugee Council spokesman Aran Mylvaganam said the COVID-19 pandemic provided a really good excuse to let this family out.

“We’re all talking about saving lives,” he said.

“So many people in Australia want them to be back in Biloela.

“It’s a one-off. It doesn’t set a precedent.

“Nobody will say anything negative about the government, especially the tax payers who are paying for their detention.”

The petition calling for the return of the family can be found on the Bring Priya, Nades and their girls home to Biloela Facebook site or at bit.ly/ShareBiloPetition.