Furniture & groceries: Meet the Biloela locals offering support for the Nadesalingam family
On Friday, they made it home to Biloela.
Here are some of the many unsung heroes behind the scenes of the Home To Bilo campaign, showing their solidarity with the Nadesalingam family in their own unique way.
Mother of frontline campaigner organises home essentials
Most people know Home to Bilo campaign spokesperson Angela Fredericks, who is one of the figures leading the charge to help bring her friends home to Biloela.
"I'm just so glad to see them back here, and for Angela to get her life back. She's really put their life on hold for four years, waiting for this family," Anne said.
Local business owner donates furnitureWhen Brett McAnilly found out Angela was browsing for mattresses to furnish the Nadesalingam home, he agreed with his wife that he'll provide anything they need for free.
He has owned the local Beds R Us store in Biloela for the past seven years but said he has never seen the community rally together for a cause like this before.
Brett McInally said providing mattresses and manchester to the newly arrived Nadesalingam family was the least he could do to provide them some comfort after their last few years of "hell". Source: SBS News"This is some way we can help somebody out who has been in a bad situation and make them feel a bit better, make their life more comfortable because obviously the last two or three years have been hell for them," Brett said.
He donated a twin mattress and two single mattresses valued at $2,000. Manchester and pillows were also provided free of charge.
The Nadeslingam family were given an emotional welcome as they arrived back to the Queensland town of Biloela. Source: SBS NewsBrett reflected on the scores of refugees fleeing Ukraine following the war in eastern Europe and said he feels "pretty helpless to actually change or do anything". "We got it pretty easy. We look at how we live and we don't have to worry about being persecuted," he said.
"You've got to have some sort of humanitarian look at it."
Before #HomeToBilo was bornBefore the media frenzy born out of the Home To Bilo campaign, Aran Mylvaganam was the first person to speak up about the plight of the Nadesalingam family. A few days after the family was detained by the former government in March 2018, the Tamil Refugee Council sent a representative to interview Priya.
The next day, Aran distributed the first press release that highlighted the family's plight, capturing the attention of several media outlets.
Tamil Refugee Council representative Aran Mylvaganam is one of the first few people who took the Nadesalingam matter to the press. Source: AAP / Daniel PockettSince the campaign officially launched, Aran and his team allowed the Home To Bilo coalition to take full rein, providing support when needed.This ranged from providing interpretive services, assisting the family's legal team with additional resources, lobbying the government and campaigning at rallies.
Aran believes getting the family back to Biloela wasn't a chance occurrence or a miracle event, but rather due to the "brave resilience" of mother Priya.
"People have been part of our community for 10 years. Our demand of the government is to grant permanent residency, regardless of whether they are found to be genuine refugees or not."
The face behind the social media
Activist and artist Jayne Centurion has been an active part of the Home To Bilo campaign behind the scenes, manning the social media profiles.
Jayne first met the family through their mutual volunteering efforts at the local Vinnies. She used to live near the Nadesalingams before they were whisked away by Australia Border Force in 2018.
Jayne Centurion has been manning the Home To Bilo Instagram page. Source: SBS NewsShe said she was horrified when she heard the news and immediately raised her hand to work on the campaign as soon as possible. "To think that you could have Border Force roll into your tiny town in the middle of Central Queensland in the wee hours of the morning and physically manhandle people out of their home ... I don't even know how you put it into words," Jayne said. She said while the Facebook and Twitter profiles for the Home To Bilo campaign solely focus on the Nadesalingams, she uses the Instagram platform to raise awareness about broader refugee and asylum seeker issues in Australia. "What I've been doing on Instagram is showing people that this is not something that is an isolated incident. This is something that actually has been happening in Australia for a long time," she said.
"We don't just want this to be tokenistic."