Nadesalingam family feel ‘peace’ after being granted permanent residency in Australia

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

The Nadesalingam family have said they finally feel “peace” after the federal immigration minister, Andrew Giles, intervened to grant them permanent residency.

Priya and Nades Nadesalingam, along with their daughters Kopika, 7, and Tharnicaa, 5, were visited by government officials in their family home in Biloela on Friday afternoon and told the news.

Priya said it was a “very happy day” for the Tamil asylum seeker family and for all of their friends and supporters in Biloela.

“At last we feel peace,” Priya said in a statement. “I am so grateful to minister Giles for granting us this permanency.

“Now I know my daughters will get to grow up safely in Australia. Now my husband and I can live without fear.”

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In March 2018, the family were given 10 minutes to pack before being removed from their home by border force agents in a 5am raid.

They were then moved to immigration detention in Melbourne before the government attempted to deport the family to Sri Lanka in 2019.

The deportation attempt was halted by a last-minute court injunction – their plane was stopped in Darwin and they were moved to the detention centre on Christmas Island where they spent two years.

This year, the Biloela family were given hope after the Labor government won the federal election and moved swiftly to grant the family with bridging visas in June.

This act of ministerial intervention allowed the Nadesalingams to exit community detention in Perth and return to their beloved home in Biloela, a small country town in central Queensland.

Simone Cameron, a friend of the family, said the Nadesalingams were “beaming” after hearing the news.

“The plight of this family has opened Australians’ eyes to the cruelty of this country’s refugee policy,” Cameron said.

“This family have endured multiple traumatic deportation attempts and have withstood the debilitating physical and mental health impacts of prolonged detention.

“We can never give that lost four and a half years back to them. But we can, and we must, ensure that we never treat people like this again.”

Angela Fredericks from the Home to Bilo campaign said the community was grateful the government had acted swiftly to return the family to Biloela.

“People power brought this family home, plain and simple,” she said.

“This campaign has shown what we can do when we refuse to be divided by fear and instead stand together as one.”

Giles, said he intervened under section 195A of the Migration Act to grant the family permanent visas following “careful consideration of the Nadesalingam family’s complex and specific circumstances.”

“My intervention provides the family with visas allowing them to remain permanently in Australia,” Giles said in a statement.

“I extend my best wishes to the Nadesalingam family.”

The federal opposition has criticised the decision.

“Actions have consequences and this sets a high profile precedent,” the opposition’s home affairs spokesperson, Karen Andrews, said in a statement.

“It undermines the policy that if you come here illegally you will never settle in Australia.”