Tamil family's bid to call Australia home

The plight of a Tamil family has sparked a passionate campaign to allow them to stay in Australia.
The plight of a Tamil family has sparked a passionate campaign to allow them to stay in Australia.

THE TAMIL FAMILY'S FIGHT TO STAY IN AUSTRALIA

* Priya and Nades Murugappan's struggle to stay in Australia with their daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa was taken up by the community of Biloela in Queensland, where they had been living, and captured the country's attention.

* For more than three years the asylum seekers have been in immigration detention in Melbourne and later on Christmas Island off the West Australian coast, after being removed from Biloela following a dawn raid by immigration officials.

* There has been an ongoing Federal Court case over the youngest daughter's right to apply for protection.

* The family is now being released to live in Perth under a community detention placement.

WHEN THEY ARRIVED

* Nadesalingam and Priya, both Tamils, fled Sri Lanka after the country's civil war. Nades arrived on a people-smuggling vessel in 2012, followed by Priya in 2013.

* They met in Australia and married in 2014, and both were granted temporary visas. They settled in Biloela, where they had two daughters, Kopika, six and Tharunicaa, now four.

* Nadesalingam worked at the local meatworks and Priya was a community volunteer.

WHY THEY CLAIM THEY ARE IN DANGER

* Nades claims that during the civil war he was forced to join the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. He says he was harassed by the government after the army won the war and will be in danger if he returns.

* Priya says she and her entire family fled Sri Lanka for India after she watched her then-fiance and five other men from her village burned alive. She says she then headed for Australia because the Indian refugee camp where she was living was not safe.

REMOVAL FROM BILOELA

* In March 2018, immigration officers took the family from their Biloela home after Priya's bridging visa expired. They were taken to a detention centre in Melbourne.

* This sparked an emotional campaign for the family to be allowed to stay in Australia and return to Biloela.

* In late August 2018, the government put the family on a plane bound for Sri Lanka. But their deportation was sensationally halted mid-flight when a Federal Court judge granted a last-minute injunction.

* The plane was forced to land in Darwin and the family was moved to the Christmas Island detention centre, where they have remained.

THEIR BID TO STAY

* The family has lost several legal bids to remain in Australia after their application for refugee status was refused.

* Their last hope is a Federal Court fight that hinges on Tharunicaa and her right to apply for protection.

* Justice Mark Moshinsky has ruled Tharunicaa was denied procedural fairness when the family and their lawyers were not allowed to comment on a pre-removal assessment carried out by an immigration department official in August 2019.

LIFE IN LIMBO ON CHRISTMAS ISLAND

* The family says their lengthy detention on the mainland, and now on Christmas Island, is a form of mental torture.

* They say they are more isolated than ever, away from supporters and members of the Sri Lankan community with whom they bonded during their detention in Melbourne.

THE LATEST

* The family's plight was back in the spotlight after Tharnicaa was flown to Perth for medical treatment.

* Mother Priya went with her to Perth Children's Hospital while her father and older sister stayed on Christmas Island.

* Facing pressure from community groups, lawyers, doctors, opposition parties and coalition backbenchers, federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced their release from detention on Tuesday.

* The reunited family will live in suburban Perth under a community detention placement while Tharnicaa undergoes medical treatment and the family "pursues ongoing legal matters".

* Mr Hawke specified Tuesday's decision "does not create a pathway to a visa".

Australian Associated Press