The Biloela Family’s bridging visas are set to expire next month, yet their fight to return to the regional Queensland community they were ripped away from is getting more attention than ever before. Speaking in their first ever interview tonight, Priya and Nades Murugappan told The Project‘s Waleed Aly of their fears for their daughters – and honestly, seeing this family speak for themselves for the first time was so jarring, I cried.

The interview started with footage of the Biloela daughters, Kopika who is 6 years old, and Tharnicaa who is four years old, playing in a park and calling out to each other.

It was a warm but also sad moment, because we’re so used to seeing photos of the girls in detention or in hospital, that it actually really struck a chord with me to see them playing like regular kids. How sad that we’re so used to seeing these girls as a political statement, that it’s genuinely jarring to see them as what they are — children.

Before speaking to Priya and Nades alone, Waleed asked the girls: “Can you tell me what Christmas island is like?”

“I don’t like [it],” Kopika replied, and the girls’ moods instantly quieted. 

“What don’t you like about it?” Waleed asked. 

“No friends,” she said. 

The moment was a sober one, because we just watched these two little girls laughing and playing, and suddenly we’re reminded of who they are: two little girls that have been locked away for years, separated from their friends, and put under so much stress that they’re both often sick. So sick, that the only reason they were even allowed back into Australia was because little Tharni needed emergency medical treatment.

After sending the kids away to play because the conversation was about to get heavier, Waleed asked Priya if she’s worried she’ll need to go back to detention very soon.

I don’t sleep in the night time,” she said.

“It’s very hard.”

She went on to talk about her fears of what could happen if she was deported. Priya said she was worried about being killed, but what was so heartbreaking was how much her and Nades dismissed that when it came to speaking about their plea to stay in Australia.

The fate of the Murugappan family ultimately lies in the hands of Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who could change it with the stroke of a pen. Waleed asked them what they would say to him.

“I’m not worried about the two of us. We have lived,” Nades said.

“We beg the minister to consider our children’s future, and let us live safely.”

Waleed summed the segment up saying what I was thinking: “You can’t help but fall in love with those kids.”

But it’s Lisa Wilkinson that hit the nail on the head, saying “It looks to me like they’re just political footballs, not human beings any more.” 

You can watch the full interview on 10 Play.