Biloela family given three-month bridging visas to allow work, study in Perth

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Sarah IsonThe West Australian
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The Biloela family.
Camera IconThe Biloela family. Credit: change.org/change.org

The Biloela family has been granted temporary “bridging visas” by the Immigration Minister that will allow them to work and study in Perth while their youngest daughter recovers from a blood infection.

Nades Murugappan and his wife Priya met and married in Australia after arriving illegally by boat from Sri Lanka.

In 2015 they welcomed they first daughter Kopika, who was born in the Queensland town of Biloela.

Two years later Tharunicaa was born and the family lived in the town until 2018, when they were forcibly removed and put into detention in Melbourne and later Christmas Island.

However, after Tharunicaa fell ill and needed to be evacuated to Perth Children’s Hospital, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced the family would be temporarily allowed to stay on the mainland in “community detention”.

Tharunicaa (bottom) and Kopika Murugappan.
Camera IconTharunicaa (bottom) and Kopika Murugappan. Credit: change.org/change.org

Under the community detention rules, neither parent is allowed to work.

But on Wednesday Mr Hawke announced he would grant Nades, Priya and Kopikaa three-month bridging visas while Tharunicaa finished her recovery.

The new arrangement would give the Tamil couple to “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 family will continue to have access to health care, support services, housing and schooling in the Perth community.”

The Morrison Government has faced pressure to permanently resettle the family, but maintains its policy that no-one arriving illegally by boat will be resettled in Australia long-term.

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