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

The Nadesalingam family are living a “very happy life” in Biloela, just under two months after their return to the town.

The four members of the Tamil asylum seeker family were on Friday granted permanent residency visas, bringing to an end their four-and-half-year immigration order.

“My girls’ life is safe,” mum Priya Nadaraja said.

“[We’re] feeling 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.

Kopika and Tharnicaa Nadesalingam are enjoying being back at school. (ABC News: Tobi Loftus)

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

Nades has returned to work at the Biloela meatworks, where he worked before the family was taken away by immigration officials in 2018. The couple is also looking to start up a food van.

Priya is also learning how to drive.

“I’m good. Got confidence quickly,” she said.

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

“I like learning because we get to learn maths and we get to be much more smarter,” Kopika said.

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

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

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

“This government made a commitment 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 Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in June after their return to Queensland.(Twitter: @alboMP)

But Shadow Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the decision to give the family a permanent visa undermined the immigration policies of past Coalition governments.

“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 we’ll keep turning boats back hopefully,” he said.

“There’s nothing wrong with this family.”

Biloela now on the tourism map

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

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

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

Family friend Angela Fredericks said the “Home to Bilo” campaign that she was a spokesperson for would not be wrapping up just because the family was home.

“I truly believe this case is a really important case in Australia’s history,” she said.

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