Inhumane immigration policies have once again inspired public outrage throughout the nation. As new information comes to light about the treatment of infants in detention facilities, Australia’s focus has been squarely on the Murugappan family. If you haven’t heard of them, here’s what’s happened so far.
Nades and Priya Murugappan, members of a highly-persecuted Tamil group, fled Sri Lanka in 2012 and 2013. Although they explained horrific experiences, watching watching loved ones killed in front of them, upon their arrival in Australia, both were denied refugee status. They were granted temporary bridging visas, and were moved to Biloela, Queensland, with their two daughters Kopica (6) and Tharnicaa (3) who were born in Australia.
Once these visas expired, the family was immediately placed in detention in Melbourne, and then on Christmas Island. The Murugappan’s situation led to intensive public pressure, primarily by the Biloela community who initiated the ‘Home to Bilo’ campaign, which gained nationwide attention. Deportation back to Sri Lanka was set for 2019, however a last-minute injunction to prevent their removal was granted. The family and their supporters made numerous attempts to attain temporary visas, but were continuously rejected.
Public backlash heightened in June 2021 when it was leaked that 3-year-old Kopica had been diagnosed with a life-threatening blood infection, caused by untreated pneumonia. Security at the detention centre had refused to call medical detention for the sick child for nearly 10 days. While Kopica and her mother were eventually released to go to a Perth hospital, Kopica’s father and older sister have been forced to remain in detention.
Attempts to reunite the family have strengthened throughout the country, especially on social media, where Australians are voicing their concerns. Although the Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, has discretionary power to reunite the Murugappans, calls to permanently resettle the family in Australia have been flatly rejected.
Ideological conflicts between committing to strong border protection and exercising discretion in circumstances involving children have also sparked disagreement within the government.
Ultimately folding to the public pressure, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has allowed the family to leave the detention centre and reside in Perth. However, the question that now needs to be answered is whether they will be allowed to permanently reside in Australia.
If you would like to learn more about this issue, or would like to discuss a legal matter, please do not hesitate to call us on 8917 8700.