The Murugappan family are finally making their long overdue journey home to Biloela, Central Queensland, after spending more than four years in detention.
Parents Priya and Nades left Perth with their Australian-born daughters Kopika, six, and Tharnicaa, four, early on Wednesday morning and are set to arrive home on Friday afternoon.
Speaking to the media outside Perth airport on Wednesday morning, the family gave thanks in English and their native language.
— Kate Massey (@KateMassey_7) June 7, 2022
The asylum-seeking Tamil family have undergone protracted legal proceedings to stay in Australia since they were detained in their home and placed in immigration detention by the Australian Border Force in March 2018.
Since then, the family have been moved from Melbourne to Christmas Island, then Perth after Tharnicaa suffered a health scare.
Though town locals campaigned for 1500 days to bring them back, it wasn’t until a change in government that progress was made.
The Nadeslingam family at Perth airport. Verna was there and sent me this photo. We said our goodbyes last night via messenger etc. I wish them well and enjoyed hosting them in Perth. But life for them is in Biloela. Hope they get the permanent residency status soon. pic.twitter.com/mu2criXLna
— Suresh Rajan (@SureshRajan6) June 7, 2022
The Morrison government refused to grant bridging visas to the whole family, preventing them from leaving community detention in Perth, with former Prime Minister Scott Morrison holding that the family hadn’t been found to fulfil the necessary criteria to be asylum seekers.
Within weeks of the new Albanese government forming and being sworn in, the family has been granted new residency visas that allow them to return to Biloela by interim Home Affairs Minister Jim Chalmers.
“The effect of my intervention enables the family to return to Biloela, where they can reside lawfully in the community on bridging visas while they work towards the resolution of their immigration status, in accordance with Australian law,” he said last month, per The New Daily.
And they’re off! #Kopika and #Tharnicaa ready for the trip back to #Biloela with friends from #Perth there to say goodbye! @AustralianStory #australianstory @CarinaFordImmi @abcnews pic.twitter.com/Sif5ZCEmy3
— Belinda Hawkins (@hawkinsbelinda1) June 7, 2022
In a bittersweet twist, the Murugappens will be home in time to celebrate Tharnicaa’s fifth birthday on Sunday.
She was nine months old when they were first detained.
This article first appeared on OverSixty.