Tamil refugee family Nadesalingams granted permanent visas after four years of struggle

The Tamil family, at the center of a four-year immigration struggle, has been granted permanent visas, ending a community-led campaign against their deportation.

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 been in immigration detention for four years after their visa expired in 2018.

The ABC confirmed that the family was visited today by the Interior Ministry team at their home in Biloela and said they had been granted a permanent visa.

A family friend and “Home to Bilo” campaigner, Angela Fredericks, was with the family when officials visited.

“They gave us the news that the minister decided to intervene and use his powers to grant permanent visas to all four family members,” said Ms Fredericks.

“It was a very exciting day because we knew they were coming, but we had no idea what for.

“So when they said the words ‘permanently’ there was instant tears and such excitement and cheers.

“To say to the girls ‘you can stay in Australia forever’, there was just a big yay from Kopika.”

Nadesalingam family
The Nadesalingam family was granted permanent Australian visas.(Australian Story: Robert Koenig-Luck)

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said the decision followed “careful consideration” of the “complex and specific circumstances of the family”.

“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 delivered on that promise.

“I wish the Nadesalingam family my best wishes.”

The family was placed in immigration detention in 2018 after the parents’ bridging visa expired.

They were not found by the coalition government to meet Australia’s refugee demands and were held in Melbourne and Christmas Island, and in community detention in Perth.

The end of a ’10-year struggle’

Ahead of the election, former Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “no protection was owed” to the family as claims for protection had been rejected.

Shortly after the election, the Labor government intervened, allowing the family to return to Biloela on bridging visas.

It was the first time that the youngest daughter Tharnicaa received a visa.

They were welcomed home with a weekend of celebrations in June, including a special ceremony at a multicultural festival, and a birthday party in the park for Tharnicaa, her first outside immigration detention.

Two smiling men stand on either side of a smiling woman and two smiling little girls.
The Nadesalingam family met Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in June after their return to Queensland.(Twitter: @alboMP)

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 started when the family first came to Australia more than a decade ago.

“This has been a ten-year battle for Priya and Nades,” she said.

“For the first time they can really plan for a future, they really learn that the dreams and goals they have for their little family can all come true.

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