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Family friend of Biloela Tamils stuck on Christmas Island says mental health of two daughters at risk

Struggling: There’s strong community support for the Biloela’s Tamil family as lawyers argue the youngest daughter’s case should be re-assessed. Photo: Twitter / HometoBilo

A FRIEND of the Biloela Tamil family at the centre of a high-profile legal battle to stay in Australia says the mental health of the family’s two young children is deteriorating as wait on Christmas Island for a ruling.

Nadesalingam Murugappan, known as Nades, and Kokilapathmapriya Nadesalingam, known as Priya, and their two Australian born daughters Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 2, had been living in the central Queensland town of Biloela, but were taken to an immigration detention when their visas expired in March, 2018.

They were held in detention in Melbourne, before an attempt to deport them last August.

 Since then the family has been held on Christmas Island.

Lawyers for the youngest daughter are appealing a Federal Court decision in the hope her visa application will be automatically re-assessed.

Last September the Federal Court ruled there is enough evidence for Tharunicaa’s visa protection claim to go to trial.

The ruling means the whole family can stay in Australia until the case is finalised

Family friend Angela Fredericks said she had seen a deterioration in Kopika’s mental wellbeing as the family struggled “in difficult circumstances” in detention.

“It is currently school holidays which is always difficult for Kopika who is currently in Prep,” Ms Fredericks told The Catholic Leader.

“She really hates not getting to see her friends and have the freedom she experiences while at school.”

“In talking to Priya I can hear the depression in her voice as she and Nades continue to keep the girls occupied and attempt to keep busy.”

The Tamil family has fought and lost numerous court battles to remain in Australia, saying they fear persecution if they are returned to Sri Lanka.

Their bid for asylum hinges on the case of the youngest daughter Tharunicaa, with lawyers arguing her claim for asylum had not been properly assessed.

The Federal Government has maintained the status of Tharunicaa is linked to that of the rest of her family, and their bids for protection visas were denied in 2017.

Ms Fredericks said Priya continues to experience health concerns relating to her shoulder injury from being man-handled during the deportation attempt last August.

“This makes life difficult as she is unable to be as hands on with the girls or even with being able to do cleaning and other tasks,” Ms Fredericks said.

“Just recently the family have been allowed to attend the movie nights that are hosted on the Island.

“This has given them a feeling of normality getting to go and partake in this community event.

“It felt like we were discussing a normal situation as Priya told me about the outing.

“The community on the island have been incredibly welcoming of the family and I know they hate seeing them constantly escorted by guards.”

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