After spending more than four years in detention, the Murugappan family are finally back to Queensland with Biolela ready to celebrate their arrival.
Nades, Priya and their two daughters Tharnicaa and Kopika are enroute to the town that fought for their return.
Home to Bilo was a campaign started by the Biloela community in an effort to get the family back to the town. Representatives from the initiative have said they “cannot wait to welcome [them] back home with some warm hugs, happy tears, and a very big welcome home party”.
In 2018, Australian Border Force and police raided the family’s home at 5 am on March 5th and forcibly removed them after Priya’s bridging visa expired the day before. They were transported to Melbourne before taken to Perth, where they were to be deported to Christmas Island.
Priya suffered a blood infection in 2019 and the family were brought to Perth where they spent the past three years in detention.
On the news they’re allowed to go home, Priya urged the government to make changes that would help refugees.
“My prayer is that this government will make a change to the lives of every single refugee who comes here. All refugees are survivors. They need hope. I had the support of Nades and we had the support of the people of Bilo. But many others don’t have that support. So I want to help.”
Before he became PM, Anthony Albanese had promised that the Sri Lankan family would be allowed to go back to outback Queensland, if elected. Treasurer and acting Home Affairs Minister Jim Chalmers used his powers under the Migration Act 1958 to see that promise fulfilled.
“This decision will allow them to get ‘home to Bilo’, a big-hearted and welcoming Queensland town that has embraced this beautiful family.”
Nades and Priya left Sri Lanka in 2012 and 2013, arriving in Australia via boat as Asylum seekers. Their daughters were born in Australia in 2015 and 2017, having moved to Biloela in 2014.