Biloela family wins temporary visa to stay in Australia

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Three members of the Murugappan family, who lived in the Queensland town of Biloela before entering immigration detention, have been granted a temporary three-month visa to stay in Australia.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said on Wednesday he approved the Tamil family’s request for a three-month bridging visa, providing them work and study rights.

“Under section 195A, a minister can intervene to grant a person a visa if it is in the public interest to do so,” Mr Hawke said in a statement.

“This decision allows three members of the family to reside in the Perth community on bridging visas, while the youngest child’s medical care, and the family’s legal matters, are ongoing.

“The fourth family member’s visa status is unchanged.”

The family will continue to have access to health care, support services, housing and schooling in the Perth community, Mr Hawke said.

A spokesperson for the family also confirmed Priya, Nades, and six-year-old Kopika had been issued bridging visas until late September.

Tharnicaa remains in community detention, so the family cannot leave Perth and return home to Biloela in Queensland.

The family’s lawyer is enquiring about her visa status.

“Today’s news is another huge step in the long journey home for Priya and her family, but still there is no certain pathway home to Bilo,” friend Angela Fredericks said.

“While we welcome Priya, Nades, and Kopika being granted bridging visas, we wonder what precisely is the minister’s objective in denying little Tharni one.

“This family must stay together, and they need to be back in Biloela as soon as humanly possible.

“We know just how many Australians hold this family in their hearts and have helped get them to this moment today.

“Now, we need Mr Morrison and Mr Hawke to finally acknowledge that widespread support and end this long, painful saga for my dear friends.”

Protesters have rallied around the nation to demand the return of the asylum seeker family to Biloela since they were detained in March 2018.

Last week, the family was reunited in Perth as Tharnicaa recovered in hospital from an illness that went untreated on Christmas Island, where they had been since 2019 after losing their bid to secure refugee status.

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