Renewed calls for Biloela Tamil family to be resettled in Australia as daughter receives urgent medical treatment


Staff member
Three-year-old Tharnicaa had reportedly been unwell for days before she was flown to a hospital in Perth on Monday afternoon.

The youngest daughter of the Tamil Biloela family detained on Christmas Island is fighting a serious blood infection caused by untreated pneumonia, supporters say.

Three-year-old Tharnicaa and her mother Priya Murugappan were evacuated from the island on Monday evening, and the child suffered dangerous temperature spikes on the journey to Perth.

Her mother says the girl was sick for almost two weeks, and that repeated requests for early hospital care were refused.

Family supporter Angela Fredericks said the child has been diagnosed with a blood infection, resulting from "untreated pneumonia".

She says the child is now stable, in the Perth Children's Hospital, and is not in immediate danger.

"It looks like they have said she has untreated pneumonia that led to a blood infection," Ms Fredericks told AAP on Tuesday.

"They are continuing to run tests, as they are still not able to get her white cell counts where they should be. She is hooked up to antibiotics ... they are now treating the pneumonia, while they look for any other infection sites."

Tharnicaa, three, is the youngest person in Australia's immigration detention system and one of only two children, the other being her five-year-old sister Kopika.

She has been detained on Christmas Island with her sister and parents, Priya and Nades Murugappan, since August 2019 after an urgent court injunction blocked their deportation to Sri Lanka.

Family friend Bronwyn Dendle told SBS News Tharnicaa was flown out of Christmas Island to a hospital in Perth on Monday afternoon after being unwell with high temperatures, vomiting, and diarrhoea, since 25 May.

She was first taken to hospital on the island in the early hours of Sunday morning, she said.

A statement published by the Home to Bilo campaign, a group of friends and supporters who advocate for the family, said health services on the remote island had only administered Panadol and Nurofen when Priya raised the alarm about her daughter's condition.

"I am feeling very scared and worried for my little girl," Priya said in the statement. "She has been sick for many days, it took a long time for her to get to the hospital."

Priya has travelled with her daughter to Perth, but her father was forced to remain on the island.

"I know that Nades is very worried and very upset about everything," Ms Dendle, who has been in contact with the family, said.

The family have been in immigration detention for more than three years. After overstaying their visa, they were taken from their home in the small Queensland town of Biloela on 5 March, 2018, and placed in Melbourne’s Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) before later being transferred to Christmas Island.

"Tharnicaa would have been able to access timely and appropriate medical care if she was living here in Biloela," Ms Dendle said.

A recent photo of Tharunicaa (left) and Kopika on Christmas Island. They have now spent three years in immigration detention.

These two children have now been in Australian immigration detention for three years

"And now we've got a case where a child is seriously ill and being flown to a major children's hospital ... as a mother, my heart breaks into a thousand pieces having to watch your child be that ill."

A friend of the family, Angela Fredericks, said medical staff are still running tests to confirm whether the "blood infection" is sepsis.

"Late last night, they were starting to run some tests, they were treating her intravenously with antibiotics," she told ABC RN on Tuesday morning.

"And still trying to get her fever down, which spiked during her flight over again.

"So last night, when I spoke to them they had been settled into the emergency department and were waiting."

Labor's home affairs spokesperson Kristina Keneally, who recently visited the family on Christmas Island, said she was concerned for Tharnicaa.

"A medical emergency and family separation is the last thing they need," she said. "This family should not be in detention. They should be in their community in Biloela."

Greens senator Nick McKim called for the family's release into the community.

"Horrendous. A small child imprisoned for political gain," he said in a message posted on Twitter.

"They shouldn’t even be in detention in the first place, let alone so far away from decent medical support. They should be released into our community. Now."

In a statement on Tuesday morning, the Department of Home Affairs strongly denied allegations of inaction or mistreatment.

"All of the Australian Border Force’s actions and decisions regarding the minor’s medical treatment and care have been based on medical practitioner’s clinical knowledge which is ongoing," the statement said.

"The minor has been receiving medical treatment and daily monitoring on Christmas Island consistent with medical advice. This has included an IHMS General Practitioner and the Christmas Island Hospital."

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said "a range of resettlement options" are being considered for the family.

She said no final decision has been made on "resettlement options", but she ruled out using her discretion at this stage as Home Affairs Minister to grant them a valid visa.

"We are going through the process now of investigating a range of resettlement options in relation to a number of different circumstances here in Australia. I can't make public commentary on that at the moment because I don't want to disrupt those negotiations."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said decisions on the treatment of the family would be made by medical professionals.

"This is a matter going through the court's process that they've initiated and there are some present medical issues involving the family.

"And they will continue to receive every medical care and that care and where they are treated will continue to be determined by doctors, by the medical professionals who advise us on these matters."

In 2019, four of Tharnicaa's teeth were surgically removed due to severe decay, which advocates believe was caused by a lack of fresh food and vitamin D deficiency brought on by life in detention.

A Department of Home Affairs spokesperson confirmed a minor had been medically evacuated from Christmas Island to a Western Australian hospital but declined to comment further on the incident citing privacy reasons.

"Healthcare services for detainees on Christmas Island are broadly comparable with those available within the Australian community under the Australian public health system," they said.

"The Australian Border Force facilitates access to nurses, doctors and specialists for all members of the family."

A protracted legal battle to secure the family's right to remain in Australia currently hinges on whether the three-year-old has the right to apply for protection.

In February, the full bench of the federal court upheld an earlier ruling that found Tharnicaa was not given procedural fairness when her application for a protection visa was assessed.


Staff member
Apparently in the two weeks prior to the evacuation to Perth, Karen Andrews refused to approve the use of any medication other than Panadol or Nurofen


Wonder woman
Thanks for your info Mothra. It amounts to torture... long term psychological and physical torture for this family.. DELIBERATELY KNOWINGLY and WITH INTENT by OUR Government.
They still attempt to defend their position.!@!v on this abhorrent criminal behaviour by OUR government.... WTF.?

Speaks more words than anything that they would ever contemplate, let alone ACT so foully, and what can you say ??? .


I really hope the little girl Tharnicaa survives.. pneumonia and septicemia
are classic examples of gross medical negligence. GROSS.

why is this still happening.? Because the lives of this family are nothing compared to the ambition of our government.

It embarrasses me so much that Morrison and Co. apparently speaks for me, that I can't actually find ANY enthusiasm for listening to his melange of words, often mangled, just like his fucking brain.

Oh dearie me Australia. :sad


Staff member
Priya watched as her fiancé, and five other men, were burned alive. Let's not forget the lives the Biloela family fled from.

Priya watched as her fiance was burned alive, alongside five other men, at the hands of the Sri Lankan government.

It was an atrocity that was commonplace. He was killed because he belonged to the Tamil ethnic group, native to Sri Lanka, but persecuted by the Sri Lankan Military.

It’s estimated that 40,000 Tamils have been killed. But the number could be as high as 70,000. It’s hard to know, given the government at the time wasn’t really counting.

During the Sri Lankan civil war, and according to multiple reports, even since, Tamils have been subject to widespread rape, torture, bombings and murder.

It was 2012 when Priya, having lost the man she was meant to marry, decided to seek asylum in Australia. She wouldn’t have known much. Just that in Australia, your country does not kill you because of the blood that runs through your body.

One year later, a man named Nadesalingam, or Nades for short, sought refuge for the same reason. A Tamil, Nades is said to still bare scars, and wear the shrapnel that exploded onto him from a government bomb.

In Australia, Priya and Nades met. They married. Nades got a job in the Biloela meatworks. They had two children. It was surely a life previously unimaginable to a woman who watched a man she loved burn.

For more than three years, the couple lived in Biloela, a small community in Central Queensland.
Then, in March 2018, Priya’s bridging visa expired. She says she was in communication with a case worker from the Department of Home Affairs, according to The Guardian. Priya was expecting a new visa to arrive.
t never came, though.

Instead, while Nades was getting ready for work and Priya was preparing a bottle for her then seven-month-old baby, their home was stormed by police.

Their sleeping children were taken from their beds, while Priya and Nades were given just 10 minutes to collect whatever they needed. They would never be coming back.

Simone Cameron, who used to live in Bioela with the family, told the ABC they were, “lovely, salt-of-the-earth people… They’ve had such a traumatic life living through a war and they just thought a town like Biloela was the answer to their dreams.”

Cameron recalls teaching Nades English, while another community member says he volunteered at St Vincent’s de Paul.

The family of four, two of whom were born in Australia, were sent to a detention centre in Melbourne.

For months, they were held in small rooms, unable to go outside or see other people.

According to The Guardian, medical reports showed that the two girls “suffered severe vitamin deficiencies”, as well as a number of other medical issues. Tharunicaa experienced infections in her teeth, which eventually turned them black. There were delays in accessing treatment and medication.

Doctors said that nothing about the detention facilities in Melbourne are suitable for children.

Then, in August 2019, the family was removed from detention and placed on a plane departing from Melbourne Airport.

Cameron told the ABC, “Priya reports that some of the guards have been rough and aggressive with her, that she can’t feel one of her shoulders… She asked for the chance to go and change her clothes and they refused her that.”

At 3am on Friday August 30, they arrived in Darwin, where they were held in a hotel. For hours, no one know where the family were.

When contact was reestablished, advocates learned that the family were being taken to Christmas Island late on Friday night.

The family’s lawyer, Carina Ford, told the ABC, “I mean there’s a reason why Christmas Island was closed in the first place, and it’s remote… the conditions have never been appropriate and it’s obviously just the fact that this has happened overnight with two young children is of course traumatic.”

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton responded by telling Nine’s Today program, “I would like the family to accept that they are not refugees, they’re not owed protection by our country."

“They came here by boat and we’ve been very clear that they wouldn’t stay.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced at the time that he could not “in good conscience” allow the family of four to stay in Australia, and to make a last minute ministerial intervention would send the wrong message to other asylum seekers.

“It’s not about the public mood, it’s about what is the right decision for Australia’s national interest to ensure that the integrity of our border protection regime is maintained,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney, before adding, “That’s not how you run strong borders.”

Nades sent a simple message in response to Australian politicians: “We want to go home. We want to go back to Biloela. We want a safe life for our children and for us.

“I believe Peter Dutton has a big heart. I believe, as a father, he can understand my feelings.”

In 2019, it was reported that Priya was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following her last visit to Christmas island.

Then, this week, three-year-old Tharnicaa was evacuated to a Perth hospital.

What happened this week to the Biloela family?
The latest development is Tharnicaa's medical evacuation to the Perth hospital, where she has been diagnosed with untreated pneumonia, which her family friends believe caused the blood infection.

"I am feeling very scared and worried for my little girl," Priya, who accompanied her daughter to the Perth hospital, said in a media statement on Monday afternoon.

“She has been sick for many days, it took a long time for her to get to the hospital. She is already asking for her papa, it is going to be very hard being away from her Dad and sister. It is very hard for our family to be separated when our daughter is sick.”

Angela Fredericks, family friend and spokesperson for the Home to Biloela group, also commented on the developing situation, saying: “If her loving parents were able to access medical services for their children the moment they needed it - as they would in the Australian community - we would not see these shocking delays. That’s all Nades and Priya want to do for their girls - to care for and protect them.”

Karen Andrews, the Home Affairs Minister who has the power to intervene at any moment, told reporters on Tuesday that they are exploring resettlement options for the family.

This is a family who fled from persecution, believing they would find refuge in one of the wealthiest and safest countries on earth.

Instead, they have been detained. They have been denied medical care.

Priya and Nades escaped trauma only to be met with a new brand of trauma. Their daughter Tharnicaa knows nothing else.

The treatment of this family is Australia's national shame.


Staff member
If a parent was found to be keeping a child in those conditions resulting in illness of that magnitude, they would lose custody of the child. May i add, especially if they are Aboriginal. Rich and white, you'd probably get to explain it away.

But how do we wrestle custody of these children from our very own government?

Just tear my heart to pieces and covers me in shame.


Staff member
Minister Karen Andrews rules out resettling Biloela Tamil family in New Zealand or US, days after possibility was raised

A family of Tamil asylum seekers currently detained on Christmas Island are not being considered for resettlement in New Zealand or the United States, despite senior government ministers previously raising the option.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said resettlement arrangements with both countries were only open to refugees, and the family were not legally considered to be refugees.

The family have been detained on Christmas Island since 2019.

They were removed from their home in the regional Queensland town of Biloela in 2018 by Australian Border Force officials after their visas expired.

The youngest member of the family, three-year-old Tharnicaa Murugappan, was flown to Perth Children's Hospital this week after experiencing vomiting, diarrhoea and dizziness for several days.

Ms Andrews appeared to raise the possibility the family could be resettled abroad at a press conference on Tuesday, responding to a direct question on the family's future.

But she has now sought to make clear that neither country is an option for now.

"In relation to resettlement options, the arrangements that we have in place with the United States and New Zealand are in respect to refugees," she told Nine Radio.

"This family does not have refugee status."

A legal challenge related to Tharnicaa's legal status in Australia is ongoing.

Confusion created by ministers
Ms Andrews told Nine Radio she had "tried to be very clear" at the Tuesday press conference.

At that press conference, when asked when the family would be released, and if the government had discretion to make a decision on their future, Ms Andrews raised the resettlement arrangements.

"We are going through the process now of investigating a range of resettlement options in relation to a number of different circumstances here in Australia," she replied to the question on Tuesday.

"I can't make public commentary on that at the moment because I don't want to disrupt those negotiations."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison then added: "And that applies across all cohorts, across all groups, not specifically."

But hours later, Foreign Minister Marise Payne directly raised the prospect of the family being resettled in the United States or New Zealand.

"I understand that there are two options that are being looked at," Senator Payne told Nine Radio.

"I understand the United States is the first of those, and that New Zealand is also an option."

However, the ABC revealed on Wednesday there had not been any formal discussions with the United States or New Zealand about the family's future.

On Thursday morning, the Home Affairs Minister sought to make clear that those options were not available to the family at present.

"The family does not have access to those two programs, because they are for resettlement of refugees," Ms Andrews said.

Asked if the Foreign Minister, Ms Payne, was wrong to raise the prospect of resettlement in either country, she did not directly reply.

She said negotiations with New Zealand on broader resettlement programs were underway, and arrangements were already in place with the United States.

'They need to sort it out'
The Premier of Western Australia, where Tharnicaa is in hospital, said the Commonwealth should intervene and permit the family to return to their central Queensland home.

"This issue is longstanding, the family's been in detention now for years, I think they need to sort it out," Premier Mark McGowan said.

"If that means they need to use one of their exemption powers under the act, just do it and resolve the issue … and get this very unfortunate and somewhat internationally embarrassing issue past us."
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said the Minister had the power to grant the family visas at any time, and should do so.

"Detention is not a place for kids, and the fact is that they should be granted visas based upon the ministerial discretion that is there," he said.

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the matter was still under consideration by the government, and a decision could be made and announced shortly.

But he warned he would not want to see an outcome that risked encouraging people-smugglers.

"What I don't want to see is people encouraged by the fact that somebody who came to Australia in an unauthorised fashion then gets settlement in the nation," he said.

"Because what I don't want to see encouraged is other people to want to try the same attempt."


Staff member
How long do the idiots need to think about it? FMD!
they're just stalling hoping they'll disappear from the news cycle for another while. they seem determined to not give in ... even if it means the family dies of old age.


Head Honcho
Staff member
If they had a shred of honesty they would withdraw Aust. from the Refugee Convention.


Ima da Sheriff
Staff member
I predict the Gov will give in. But...they will smoke screen it with some bullshit about a visa condition....which could have been the case three years ago.


Ima da Sheriff
Staff member


Ima da Sheriff
Staff member
Ya know....the pathetic thing is....a decision has already been made to allow them back, yet we have this public political bullshitting going on to sugar coat it. Farking arseholes, the lot of them.


Head Honcho
Staff member
Not freely.


JUN 15, 2021 —

Friends, this morning my high hopes for a swift and compassionate end to three years of cruelty for our Biloela family were dashed.

After days of speculation, it was a relief to read Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s announcement that little Tharni and her mum Priya will be re-united with Nades and Kopika in Perth today.
But instead of allowing this beautiful family to come home to Biloela where they are loved and wanted, Minister Hawke is placing them in “community detention” in Perth and stopping them from coming home to the little QLD town where they belong.

( email)

PLEASE email or phone your MP and any Lib/Nat Senators.

How cruel!