“I want to go home to Bilo.”
Those were the words echoed by two young asylum seeker children on national television, as their future hangs in the balance with deportation still a very real possibility.
The Tamil family, who lived in the rural Queensland town of Biloela, begged Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to allow them to stay in Australia, for the sake of their children.
Nadesalingam and Priya Murugappan fled Sri Lanka separately, coming by boat to Australia in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
They met and married in Australia and had two daughters – Kopika, 6, and Tharnicaa, 4 – after settling in Biloela, a 6½ hour drive north of Brisbane, with a population of just under 6000.
In March 2018, they were taken from Biloela and sent to Christmas Island. Since then, courts and tribunals all the way up to the High Court have ruled the parents do not have refugee status.
In an interview aired on Thursday, the family of four spoke from community detention in Perth.
“I can’t manage … I no sleep in the nighttime. It’s very hard … Anything could happen to us if we are sent back to Sri Lanka, we could lose our lives,” mother Priya Murugappan told Channel 10’s The Project.