Nadesalingam family’s ‘very happy life’ in Biloela now that visas are approved

Written by Javed Iqbal

The Nadesalingam family is living a “very happy life” in Biloela, barely two months after their return to the city.

The four members of the Tamil asylum-seeking family were granted permanent resident visas on Friday, ending their four-and-a-half-year immigration ordeal.

“My girls’ lives are safe,” said mother Priya Nadaraja.

“[We’re] I feel very happy.”

Priya, her husband Nades Murugappan and their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa have been living in Biloela in regional Queensland since June after the new Labor government granted them bridging visas.

The family previously spent four years in immigration detention after Priya’s visa expired in 2018 and both she and her husband’s claims for refugee status were rejected by the former coalition government.

“A long journey, four and a half years … hard life,” Priya said.

Two smiling girls in school uniform.
Kopika and Tharnicaa Nadesalingam are enjoying being back at school. (ABC News: Tobi Loftus)

Priya said she and Nades were grateful to all their supporters and friends and to the federal government for the visas.

Nades has returned to work at the Biloela meat plant where he worked before the family was taken away by immigration authorities in 2018. The couple is also looking to start a food truck.

Priya is also learning to drive.

“I feel good. Gained confidence quickly,” she said.

She said the girls were back at school and loving it.

“I like learning because we get to learn math and we get a lot smarter,” Kopika said.

For Tharnicaa, her favorite part of going to school was seeing her friends.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles’ decision to grant the family permanent resident visas has opened up a war of words between the government and the opposition.

Sir. Giles said the decision followed “careful consideration” of the family’s “complex and specific circumstances”.

“This government committed before the election that if elected we would allow the family to return to Biloela and resolve the family’s immigration status,” he said on Friday.

Two smiling men stand on either side of a smiling woman and two smiling little girls.
The Nadesalingam family met Premier Anthony Albanese in June following their return to Queensland.(Twitter: @alboMP)

But Shadow Home Secretary Karen Andrews said the decision to grant the family a permanent visa undermined previous coalition governments’ immigration policy.

“Actions have consequences and this sets a high-profile precedent,” she said.

“It undermines the policy that if you come here illegally you will never settle in Australia.”

Banana Shire Mayor Nev Ferrier hopes this decision is the end of the family’s ordeal.

“People think the boats will keep coming because of that, but hopefully we’ll keep turning the boats back,” he said.

“There is nothing wrong with this family.”

Biloela now on the tourism map

He said the family’s plight and the community response the family had received had put Biloela on the national tourism map.

“I’ve had people tell me they came to Biloela because they heard about it,” he said.

Nadesalingam family
The Nadesalingam family were granted permanent Australian visas.(Australian History: Robert Koenig-Luck)

Family friend Angela Fredericks said the “Home to Bilo” campaign she championed would not end just because the family was home.

“I really think this case is a really important case in Australian history,” she said.

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Javed Iqbal

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