Biloela Family Will Return “As Soon As Possible” After Labor Win

“There's a lot of healing and recovery they'll have to begin now after four years of torture and what they experienced.”

Biloela Labor

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The Biloela family are on track to return to their home in Queensland after Labor’s win in the Federal Election on Saturday.

The Tamil family of four have been stuck in community detention since last June, after the Coalition deprived four-year-old Tharnicaa of a bridging visa — keeping the Murugappans in Perth instead of Biloela after years of being held in offshore detention facilities.

Meanwhile, the community in Biloela have been waiting to welcome them home since 2018. Bronwyn Dendle, an advocate and friend to the family, told Junkee that everyone is feeling relieved about their impending return.

Social media posts circulated of the family receiving the news that the ALP was elected on Saturday night. Now that the initial shock and elation has softened, and the reality of the situation settled in the days since, Dendle says they are starting to feel peace.

“They’re feeling really hopeful and excited about coming back to Biloela, back to the community that they were so much a part of,” she said. “They are safe, they can relax, and they’re keen to get home and see everyone”.

“When I’m talking to people around town, in the supermarket, there has been a sense of ‘oh my goodness, I can’t believe it’ — almost a sense of disbelief that after so long, and having so much negative rhetoric around it, [because] some people did start to lose hope it would finally happen.”

Dendle said Biloela is now gearing up to welcome them back by planning celebrations, but the next roadblock is securing an exact date. Treasurer Jim Chalmers said on Monday that he is expecting to be briefed this week on the matter, but wants to see the family return to Biloela “as soon as possible”.

“Obviously we’ve got to wait for an Immigration Minister to be sworn in, and then we can move things along,” said Dendle, celebrating how Labor has continued to uphold the situation as a priority for the Albanese Government.

She said in an ideal world, the family would be back in Biloela before June 11, when the rural town hosts its annual flourish multicultural festival, and the day before youngest daughter Tharnicaa turns five-years-old. The birthday girl was only nine months old when she was forced to leave Biloela, and it would be her first birthday out of detention after multiple attempts under the Morrison Government to deport the family.

“There’s a lot of healing and recovery they’ll have to begin now after four years of torture, and what they experienced,” said Dendle. “The best place and the best people that they can do that with are in their hometown, in Biloela”.