Biloela asylum seeker family given three month bridging visas

The Murugappan family who went into detention after being told they could not stay in their Biloela home town have been granted three-month bridging visas, meaning the parents can work and the children attend school in Perth.

The Tamil asylum seeker family was reunited in Perth last week after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his powers to move them off Christmas Island, where they had been since August 2019, into community detention.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has given the Murugappan family three month bridging visas.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen/Supplied

On Wednesday Mr Hawke agreed to an application under a section of the Migration Act that allows him to grant visas in the public interest.

“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,” Mr Hawke said in a statement.

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

Nadesalingam and Priya Murugappan fled Sri Lanka separately, coming by boat to Australia in 2012 and 2013 respectively. They met and married in Australia and had two daughters – Kopika, 6, and Tharnicaa, 4 – after settling in Biloela. But along the way, courts and tribunals all the way up to the High Court have ruled the parents don’t have refugee status.

Distressing images of Tharnicaa and Kopika in a Christmas Island hospital room reignited public debate, leading Coalition MPs to press the family’s case with Mr Hawke.

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