The Sri Lankan family who was held in detention on Christmas Island after being removed from their Biloela home has been granted a three-month bridging visa.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said he made the decision yesterday to intervene and give Priya, Nades and Kopika Murugappan visas while youngest daughter Tharnicaa receives medical treatment in Perth and their legal challenges remain ongoing.
“Yesterday at the request of the Sri Lankan family formerly resident in Christmas Island, I exercised my power under section 195A of the Migration Act, granting members of the family three-month Bridging Visas, providing work and study rights,” Mr Hawke’s statement said.
“Under section 195A a Minister can intervene to grant a person a visa if it is in the public interest to do so.
“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 fourth family member’s visa status is unchanged.
“The family will continue to have access to health care, support services, housing and schooling in the Perth community.”
The decision means the parents can work and the children can attend school in Perth.
Family friend and advocate Angela Fredericks welcomed the decision but said Tharnicaa should also have been granted a visa.
“Today’s news is another huge step in the long journey home for Priya and her family, but still, there is no certain pathway home to Bilo,” she said.
“While we welcome Priya, Nades, and Kopika being granted bridging visas, we wonder what precisely is the Minister’s objective in denying little Tharni one.
“This family must stay together, and they need to be back in Biloela as soon as humanly possible.
“We know just how many Australians hold this family in their hearts, and have helped get them to this moment today.
“Now, we need Mr Morrison and Mr Hawke to finally acknowledge that widespread support and end this long, painful saga for our dear friends.”
Tharnicaa fell ill on May 25 but her mother said detention staff on Christmas Island brushed off requests for her to be taken to hospital, instead giving her Panadol and Nurofen, Ms Fredericks said earlier this month.
When the young girl’s temperature eventually passed 40 degrees, she was given medical attention.
After a chest x-ray came back with concerning results, a medical evacuation was arranged.
Tharnicaa was flown from Christmas Island to Perth before an ambulance took her to Perth Children’s Hospital for urgent treatment.
The family was removed from their home in the Queensland town of Biloela and taken into detention in 2018 when their visa expired.
The children were born in Australia after their parents arrived in Australia by boat seeking asylum.