Nadesalingam family arrives at Biloela’s house

The Nadesalingam family finally returned to Biloela after a long immigration battle and four years in detention.

Priya, Nades, Kopika and Tharnicaa – also known as the Murugappan family – were greeted with cheers of joy as they stepped onto the outback community lane, while Tamil family supporters waved “welcome home” banners and signs.

Priya and Nades wept with relief as they hugged friends and community members who were waiting for them.

The family was greeted with applause as they stepped onto the track. (Nine)
After four years of community detention, the Biloela family obtained transitional visas to return home. (Nine)

It was a four-year moment for the Sri Lankan family, made possible by the campaign of Biloela residents protesting their arrest and attempted deportation in 2018.

Priya described the moment the family arrived home.

“Me and my family are very happy,” she said.

“Once again this is hard to imagine, back to my Bilo community.

“Happy to everyone in Bilo, our wonderful friends.

“We’re starting a new life, so happy. Thank you.”

The family got off the plane to see the community waiting for them. (Nine)

She said she hoped their arrival would mark a new beginning for her family and daughters.

“I felt like I was flying, I can’t describe the moment of landing in Bilo,” she said through a translator.

“Landing here gives me a lot of hope and for my daughters.

“I hope I can give my girls a better life and a better future.

“Words cannot describe what I’m feeling.”

The community of Biloela celebrated when the family got off the plane. (Nine)
Residents held up welcome signs with the ‘Home to Bilo’ cockatoo logo. (Twitter)

Priya said life in detention had a significant impact on her family.

“Life in detention is difficult for both kids mentally,” she said.

“Long time in detention, no medical facilities, no healthy food, mentally stressful.

“The treatment was not humane – we had a very difficult life and I hope no one has to go through that.”

The family lived in the community before being detained in 2018. (Nine)

Angela Fredericks, from the Home to Bilo campaign, helped the family on their journey from Perth, where they were living in community detention.

“This is the first time, as Priya said, that they’ve passed the front of the airport,” Fredericks said.

“They were fed and given coloring books, they were able to just be a family and that’s all they ever wanted – to just be a family.”

“I have so much gratitude, not only to the city of Biloela, which opened its arms to this family, but also to the people of Australia – the love and support that more than half a million Australians have shown us.”

Fredericks said the community would not stop fighting for the family until they were granted permanent settlement in Australia.

“Australia, we have a lot of healing to do and today is the day to start,” she said.

The Nadesalingam family said they are impressed by the community’s support. (Nine)
Priya described stepping onto the track and seeing the Biloela community. (Nine)

Priya said she hoped she could be a voice for hundreds of refugees struggling for a better life.

“Sometimes people don’t speak for themselves because they are afraid of the system – they fear for their friends and family,” she said.

“We need to let the world know what’s going on because there’s a lot of torture in detention, a lot of people struggling with mental and physical health.

“We hope this gives other people hope. I want the government to give other refugees security.”

Tamil family supporters. (Nine)

The family was granted new temporary visas by acting Interior Minister Jim Chalmers last month following a promise from the Albanian government that they would be allowed to return home.

The family began their return trip to Biloela from Perth this week.

In anticipation of his arrival, the community donated goods and helped prepare the family home.

“Tears this morning,” family friend Laraine Webster said before her arrival.

“I’m happy now, I’m happy to be here. Today is here.

“Everyone came to love them because they were just good, thoughtful, hardworking people.”

The family on their way to Biloela. (House for Anyone)
The family left community detention in Perth this week. (House for Anyone)

In just a few days, the community will celebrate Tharnicaa’s fifth birthday, the first birthday the child will live outside of immigration detention.

“Children, to see girls being able to play in the parks … and girls will be able to play there like normal kids do,” Webster said.

Bilo organizer Bronwyn Dendle said his return brought a great sense of relief to the united community, calling the feat a “magical moment”.

“Every time we talked to Priya and Nades and saw their strength, that’s what kept us going and we thought there was no stopping it now,” she said.

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