Another birthday in detention for ‘Biloela baby’ as support grows

One of the daughters of a Tamil family of asylum seekers will spend her seventh birthday in community detention as the push for their permanent settlement in Australia gains momentum.

May 12, 2022, updated May 12, 2022
Kopika Murugappan, left, will spend her seventh birthday in community detention with sister Tharnicaa. (Image: supplied)

Kopika Murugappan, left, will spend her seventh birthday in community detention with sister Tharnicaa. (Image: supplied)


Known as the Biloela family, three of the four-strong Murugappan family – parents Priya and Nades along with daughter Kopika – were granted 12-month bridging visas by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke last year following a long ordeal.

The family, who escaped Sri Lanka by boat due to a protracted ethnic conflict targeting the minority Tamils, were given temporary protection visas but were then uprooted in March 2018 from Biloela, Queensland and placed in a Melbourne detention centre by authorities.

They were then detained on Christmas Island in August 2019.

The asylum seekers were finally placed in community detention in Perth following the medical evacuation of their youngest daughter Tharnicca from Christmas Island in June 2021 due to a blood infection.

Tharnicca remains the only member of the family without a bridging visa.

Supporters are urging Mr Hawke use his ministerial powers ahead of the election and before their 12-month visas expire in September.

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“It breaks my heart to be celebrating another of Kopi’s birthdays while she’s still in some form of detention,” said Angela Fredericks, from the Home to Bilo campaign.

The family has garnered support across the political spectrum especially from independent candidates including Dr Monique Ryan, Jane Caro and Kylea Tink.

In stark contrast to his coalition colleagues, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce reaffirmed his backing of the Tamil family’s case last month on the campaign trail.

“My position remains the same. I’m having discussions with (Immigration Minister Alex Hawke). We have seen at this point in time, this family has not been extradited back to Sri Lanka,” he said.

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