Australian Story: Sept 20
3 years ago, Border Force officers took Nades Murugappen, Priya Nadaraja & daughters from their adopted Qld town of Biloela.
On Monday Australian Story speaks to Biloela’s Priya Nadaraja and Nades Murugappen as they wait to hear whether they’ll be deported to Sri Lanka.
With their visas set to expire in days, this is the untold story of the asylum seeker family at the centre of a tug-of-war between a small country town and powerful forces at the big end of government.
Three years ago, Border Force officers took Nades Murugappen, Priya Nadaraja and their two young daughters from their adopted Queensland town of Biloela.
Since then, the family has languished in detention as a high-stakes legal battle has played out in the national spotlight between their lawyers and the Federal Government
“They’re the most popular refugee family in Australia,” says Tamil Refugee Council founder Aran Mylvaganam. “Even if people haven’t heard of the name Priya and Nades, they would have heard about the Tamil family from Biloela.”
Nades and Priya arrived separately in Australia seeking asylum from war torn Sri Lanka. When their asylum seeker applications were knocked back, Biloela locals stepped up to support the family, garnering bipartisan support from many federal politicians.
“People all around Australia and the world have started to listen up and take notice,” says teacher Simone Cameron.
“We were not trained in any sort of activism or campaigning or anything like that, so we absolutely were flying blind for a lot of it,” says social worker Bronwyn Dendle.
Australian Story reveals disturbing footage of the family’s time in detention and exclusive interviews with Priya Nadaraja and Nades Murugappen as they wait to hear whether they’ll be deported to Sri Lanka and an uncertain future.
“At the very best they will be arrested when they arrive,” says Prof Damien Kingsbury from Deakin University. “At the worst what we are likely to see… is that the parents will not just face arrest and rejection but likely torture and potentially disappearance.”
“The level of parliamentary support, the level of community support for this family is well beyond anything that I have seen in my thirty years’ experience in immigration policy,” says Dr Abul Rizvi, former deputy Secretary from the Immigration Department.
Producers: Kristine Taylor and Belinda Hawkins.
8pm Monday on ABC.