The Tamil family at the centre of a four-year immigration battle have received permanent visas, ending a community-driven campaign against their deportation.
- Department of Home Affairs officials visited the Nadesalingams today granting them permanent visas
- Campaigner and family friend Angela Fredericks says the news was met with tears and jubilation
- The family had been in immigration detention since 2018
Priya Nadaraja, Nades Murugappan and their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa have been living in Biloela in regional Queensland since June, after the new Labor government granted them bridging visas.
The family had spent four years in immigration detention after their visas expired in 2018.
The ABC has confirmed the family was visited by the Department of Home Affairs team at their Biloela home today and told they had been granted permanent visas.
Family friend and “Home to Bilo” campaigner Angela Fredericks was with the family when officials visited.
“They let us know the news the minister was deciding to intervene and use his powers to grant all four family members permanent visas,” Ms Fredericks said.
“It was a very tense day as we knew they were coming but had no idea what for.
“So when they said the words ‘permanent’, there were just immediate tears and just such excitement and jubilation.
“To get to say to the girls ‘you get to stay in Australia forever’, there was just a big yay from Kopika.”
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said the decision followed “careful consideration” of the family’s “complex and specific circumstances”.
“This government made a commitment before the election that, if elected, we would allow the family to return to Biloela and resolve the family’s immigration status,” he said.
“Today, the government has delivered on that promise.
“I extend my best wishes to the Nadesalingam family.”
Shadow Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the decision to give the family a permanent visa undermined the immigration policies of past Coalition governments.
“Actions have consequences and this sets a high-profile precedent,” she said.
“It undermines the policy that if you come here illegally you will never settle in Australia.”
But Mr Giles said the government would continue to intercept and return any unauthorised vessels seeking to reach Australia.
“For anyone who attempts to migrate via an unauthorised boat to Australia – you will be caught, returned or sent to a regional processing country,” he said.
“I do not want people to die in a boat on a journey when there is zero chance of settling in Australia.
“This has not changed since the last government. We are not considering changing this policy.”
The family was taken into immigration detention in 2018 after the parents’ bridging visas expired.
They were found by the Coalition government not to meet Australia’s refugee requirements and were kept in detention in Melbourne and Christmas Island, and in community detention in Perth.
The end of a ’10-year battle’
Prior to the election, former prime minister Scott Morrison said there was “no protection owed” to the family as claims for protection had been rejected.
Soon after the election, the Labor government intervened in the case, allowing the family to return to Biloela on bridging visas.
It was the first time the youngest daughter Tharnicaa had been granted a visa.
They were welcomed home with a weekend of celebrations in June, including a special ceremony at a multicultural festival, and a birthday celebration in the park for Tharnicaa, her first outside of immigration detention.
They also met Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on June 15 on the sidelines of a Federal Cabinet meeting in Gladstone.
Ms Fredericks said the immigration uncertainty began when the family came to Australia for the first time, over a decade ago.
“This has been a 10-year battle for Priya and Nades,” she said.
“For the first time, they actually get to plan a future, they actually get to know that the dreams and goals they have for their little family can all come true.
“The peace of mind that that gives someone, knowing that they are no longer on temporary or bridging visas, but to actually know you are here permanently and no-one can take that away from you, it’s just such a beautiful gift.”
She said the family would be celebrating tonight with a range of curries.
“People power won and this people power shows that the Australian population are ready for a new conversation about refugees,” Ms Fredericks said.
“And we’re ready to actually be united as one.”