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Biloela Tamil family released into community detention but government says it’s ‘not a pathway to a visa’

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A Tamil asylum seeker family from Biloela will be reunited on Australian shores and allowed to live in the Perth community, the government has announced.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Tuesday said the Murugappan family would reside in suburban Perth through a community detention placement, while youngest daughter Tharnicaa receives medical treatment at a nearby hospital.

“Today’s decision releases the family from held detention and facilitates ongoing treatment, while they pursue ongoing litigation before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Federal Court and High Court,” he said in a statement.

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“Importantly, today’s decision does not create a pathway to a visa.

“As required by court orders, I will consider at a future date whether to lift the statutory bar presently preventing members of the family from reapplying for temporary protection, for which they have previously been rejected,” he said.

The family has been detained for three years, with four-year-old Tharnicaa and her older sister Kopika the only two children left in Australian immigration detention.

Tharnicaa and her mother Priya were flown to Perth from the Christmas Island detention centre last week, so she could receive treatment for a serious blood infection.

It means they have been separated from her sister and father Nades, who remained in immigration detention on the island.

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In a statement on Tuesday, family friend Angela Fredericks welcomed news that the family would be taken off Christmas Island and reunited after “more than three years of sub-standard care in immigration detention”.

But Ms Fredericks, who is also a spokesperson for the Home to Bilo campaign, said they hoped and assumed that placing the family in community detention in Perth was only a temporary step.

“Nades is keen to get back to work in Biloela to support his young family, which he cannot do while the family is forced into community detention. Priya wants to enrol Kopika at Biloela State School to continue her education. And we promised little Tharni a big birthday party when she got home,” she said in a statement.

“Australia knows this family’s home is in Biloela.”

More to come.

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