One Signature Just Saved A British Woman From Deportation, So What About The Murugappans?

biloela family before and after

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has found a rare grain of moral fibre and stepped in to save a woman being deported from a rural Aussie community which was desperate for her to stay. If only he would show the same humanity to the Murugappan family who were ripped away from Biloela.

Rebecca Ellison is a British woman working as a childcare worker in the Queensland-New South Wales border town of Mungindi.

She’s the only child care worker in the town and has a waitlist of two years for her services. Despite that, she’s spent the last two years in limbo after her request for permanent residency was rejected.

But in good news for Rebecca, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke stepped in and, with literally just the stroke of a pen, approved her application for permanent residency. Nationals Member for Parkes Mark Coulton defended her case as “honourable”.

“There’s a lot of cases come across the minister’s desk and not every case that wants to stay here permanently is as honourable as what Rebecca’s case is,” he said, per the ABC.

While Rebecca and her loving community are undoubtedly relieved, this story is still a frustrating one if you care about the Biloela family.

Nades and Priya Murugappan arrived in Australia separately in 2012 and 2013 after escaping persecution in Sri Lanka. They met and married in the rural Queensland town of Biloela where they had their two Australian-born children Kopika and Tharnicaa.

The Murugappan family were forcefully detained and ripped away from their community in Biloela four years ago. Priya’s visa had expired and her and Nades’ claims for refugee status were rejected.

Border officials raided their home in the early hours of March 5, 2018. Kopika was just two years old and Tharnicaa was an infant.

Since then, the family have been dragged through a drawn out immigration battle as they fight to remain in Australia.

On their detention’s fourth anniversary, Priya said they’ve been living “a really tough life”. She described the treatment she experienced in Australia’s detention centres as “oppression” and said there were “not enough medical facilities”.

“It has been mental torture,” she said, per the ABC.

The family were first detained in a Melbourne detention centre before being transferred to Christmas Island — after an urgent injunction stopped them from being deported to Sri Lanka while they were mid-flight.

In 2021 they were evacuated to community detention in Perth after Tharnicaa suffered severe medical issues.

Now Priya, Nades and Kopika all have bridging visas after the Federal Circuit Court found it “procedurally unfair” that the Federal Government tried to prevent them applying for one.

Tharnicaa, however, does not — meaning the family are still stuck in Perth.

As the Biloela community remind us with their ongoing advocacy for the Murugappan family, Alex Hawke could change that with a stroke of a pen.

The Department of Home Affairs has repeatedly maintained that the Biloela family don’t meet Australia’s protection obligations. But considering Rebecca Wilson’s story, these things can be waived with just a signature.

What makes Priya and Nade’s story less “honourable” or deserving of intervention? Both the Biloela family and Rebecca Wilson are people who are loved and wanted by their rural communities.

In the case of the Murugappans, they’re also facing life-threatening danger if they’re deported to Sri Lanka. And FFS, Kopika and Tharnicaa were born right here in Australia.

What about this case isn’t worth helping?