High court rejects four-year old’s bid

12 August 2021

Written by: Pam Kiriakidis

The Murugappan family will remain in Perth after special grant leave rejected.

The High Court has declined to accept an appeal of a four-year old girl, whose family is fighting to apply for a protection visa, to return home to Biloela, rural Queensland.

Tharnicaa Muragappan’s family is now in Perth, after she became unwell on Christmas Island, which is where they were held in detention as asylum seekers.

Federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke who has been helping the Murugappan family, could not make any further statements today after this decision.

“The family has a number of other ongoing legal matters. It is therefore inappropriate for me to comment further,” Hawke told the ABC.

Although the High Court’s decision was to not hear the case of the asylum seekers, their family members are hoping that Hawke will influence the decision for Tharnicca to apply for a protection visa.

In June, Hawke managed to grant three-month bridging visa’s to father Nades, mother Priya and sister Kopika within a community detention in Perth. Even though the children were born in Australia, the parents do not have citizenship as they were considered as illegal arrivals when they applied before Tharnicaa was born.

This three-month grant allows the family to live freely with a house, health access and their eldest daughter is able to attend school. But the family will still be in detention, as Priya and Nades will not be able to work nor volunteer and cannot move back to Biloela, unless the government changes their approval. Tharnicca was released from Perth Hospital, and the family will remain in Perth to receive medical support, however the government says that this is not a pathway to permanent settlement.

After today’s rejection, friends and family of the Murugappan family are disappointed with this decision and were concerned for their wellbeing.

“We’re incredibly disappointed by this news, however, at the end of the day no court can make a ruling on Tharnicaa’s asylum claim,” friend Angela Fredericks told the ABC.

Tharnicaa and her family have been fighting this battle for a long time to stay in Australia, as this is not the first time the courts have rejected their application for protection.

Since August 2019, the Murugappan family was kept on Christmas Island, however was released from offshore detention, as their youngest daughter Tharnicca’s health became urgent with a serious blood infection, and were sent to Perth for hospital treatment.

Both Nades and Priya arrived by boat in 2012 and 2013, and moved to Biloela, having both of their two daughters born and raised in Biloela. Although they are not considered as refugees, the government wants their family to go back to Sri Lanka.

Tharnicaa’s lawyers are wanting to persuade the High Court with a valid visa application, as the minister lifted the process on applications from the children of unauthorised arrivals, for temporary protection visas and safe enterprise visas in 2017. These raised conditions also includes a parent to have an application with the same material, however this has not been fully determined.

Tharnicca and her family has a massive amount of support, as the Biloela community have been campaigning for them to return and there has also been urges from people within the government towards the Minister.

 

Photo: Court Gavel – Judge’s Gavel – Courtroom by wppaarz available HERE and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has not been modified.