Tharnicaa Murugappan, the Australian-born youngest daughter of the Biloela family locked up in detention, has been released from Perth Hospital after being medically evacuated from Christmas Island.
Tharnicaa, who just turned four years old, was taken to Perth Hospital for a suspected blood infection after reportedly being severely ill for 10 days. Now, nearly two weeks later, she’s been released after receiving treatment for a blood infection caused by untreated pneumonia.
While it’s wonderful news that Tharnicaa is recovering from her illness, it’s important to remember that the hardships are not over for this family.
The decision to reunite the Murugappan family in Perth is only a stop gap solution. They remain in detention. There is no change to their visa status. There are no guarantees of anything once Tharnicaa's treatment finishes. They can not return to Queensland. It's not over
— Amy Remeikis (@AmyRemeikis) June 14, 2021
Despite public outcry and calls for the Tamil family to be returned to their Biloela community, the Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke, has refused to use his discretionary powers to grant them protective visas… despite the fact that discretionary powers have been previously used for a lot less – like when Peter Dutton used them to let in French nannies for his mates.
Instead of returning home, the Biloela family have been moved to a Perth detention facility for Tharnicaa’s 8-week specialist treatment, after being the only asylum seekers locked up on Christmas Island for nearly two years.
While it’s better than being offshore, the family is still in detention and separated from their community, with Tharnicaa’s mother Priya voicing her anxieties in heart-breaking pleas to return home.
“Please, we want [to] go back to Bilo. We [are] safe in Bilo,” she said.
“My husband [can] work. My daughters have friends. Bilo is home.”
— HometoBilo (@HometoBilo) June 17, 2021
Priya and her husband Nades came to Australia as Tamil refugees escaping persecution. They met and married in Australia, and were active participants in their regional community of Biloela, where their two daughters were born.
Family friend Angela Fredericks, who has been leading the organisation #HomeToBilo that’s trying to get the family back into their community, said she’s worried about the family’s mental and physical health.
“In the coming days, we will remain by Priya and Nades’ side as they try to settle their girls into yet another form of detention,” she said.
“This is another chaotic disruption in these little girls’ lives. This latest form of detention is even more heartbreaking when we know they already have a safe, secure, familiar home in Biloela.”
This hospital trip was not the first time Tharnicaa has required serious medical help. When she was just two years old, she needed treatment for rotting teeth that supporters claimed were a result of not receiving adequate care in the Christmas Island detention facility.
The public support for the Biloela family has been growing over the years, with many expressing their outrage that a family who is actively wanted by their regional Queensland community, and whose children are both Australian born, can be locked up and removed from society.
Thank you to everyone who turned out to rallies and vigils across the continent yesterday to show the government, the press, the town of Biloela and the Muruguppan family that our commitment to see them return all the way #HomeToBilo is unwavering ???????? pic.twitter.com/iu0L1UrI0T
— Sally Rugg (@sallyrugg) June 20, 2021
They’re not outliers. Their suffering is not unusual. They’re not one family happened to be trapped in an otherwise dandy system.
Their suffering is literally the point of a system where $6.7M spent detaining one family for six months is considered normal policy.
— Benjamin Law | 羅旭能 (@mrbenjaminlaw) June 15, 2021
The fate of the Biloela family still remains uncertain, with their legal battle on-going as their community tries to get them home. Until they are back in Bilo and freed from detention, sweet moments like Tharnicaa getting to be with her family will be short-lived.