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ABC News
ABC News
Tobias Jurss-Lewis

Tamil asylum seeker family prepare to return to Biloela but their immigration battle is far from over

The Nadesalingam family became known as 'the Biloela family' as they fought to stay in Australia. (Australian Story: Robert Koenig-Luck)

The Tamil asylum seeker family removed from Biloela in 2018 are set to return to the central Queensland town within weeks, allowing their five-year-old daughter to celebrate her first birthday outside of detention. 

Nades, Priya and their daughters, Kopika and Tharunicaa, are expected to arrive back in their adopted home town by early June, according to supporters who have campaigned for their return for more than four years.

Friend and advocate, Angela Fredericks, said the Nadesalingam family, also known as the Murugappans, have already begun packing but certain legalities needed to be finalised before they could leave Perth, where they've been living in community detention since June 2021.

"They now have permission that they can actually pack their bags and they can book those flights and be on their way," Ms Fredericks said.

Family friends and advocates Angela Fredericks and Bronwyn Dendle are thrilled with the decision for the family to return to Biloela. (ABC News: Jasmine Hines)

The family were removed from Biloela by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers in March 2018 and have been held in detention – including on Christmas Island – for the four years since.

Ms Fredericks said the flexibility allowed the "girls to say goodbye to their school friends" in Perth and for Priya and Nades to finish their jobs.

"We'll have them home in Biloela before her [Tharincaa's] fifth birthday, which is in mid-June and we can't wait to celebrate that birthday with her – her first birthday not in detention," she said.

Nades, Priya and their two daughters, Kopika and Tharnicaa in Perth, celebrating the news they will return to Biloela. (ABC News)

What now for the Nadesalingam family?

The Nadesalingam family were granted a temporary bridging visas on Friday but not permanent residency – meaning their fight to remain in Australia will continue.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Saturday skirted the question as to whether he would push for permanent protections or residency.

"Those issues will be worked through," he said.

"Once that [bridging] visa is granted, then other issues can be worked through in terms of their security.

"The way I was brought up, you don't treat people like that [removing them from Biloela]. We're better than that, we've intervened."

Ms Fredericks said the family and their supporters were "reassured" and confident that "this family are going to be able to be here permanently".

"This bridging visa is the start of this journey," she said.

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre founder Kon Karapanagiotidis said in a video posted online that the bridging visas afforded Priya and Nades work rights and allowed Kopika and Tharnicaa to go to school.

"In this scenario they'll be given Medicare… but it's a temporary visa," he said.

Legal challenges to the family's rights to residency remain before the courts.

He said the government could intervene and grant the family permanent visas "at any time... which the Minister for Home Affairs or the Minister for Immigration has the unfettered power, as we said under the Morrison government, to do."

"Let's hope that happens next, that the government is proactive – the family's been in limbo long enough."

Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said the family had been away from home far too long.

"This is what Labor governments do," Ms Grace said.

"It actually makes me feel so proud and emotional in relation to it.

"I can't imagine what that family has been through."

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