Home » 'Wheels in motion' for permanent residency as Nadesalingam family celebrates first weekend in Biloela

'Wheels in motion' for permanent residency as Nadesalingam family celebrates first weekend in Biloela

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After an emotional return to the small town they have made their home, campaigners say the Nadesalingam family are "close" to receiving a permanent residency visa.At Biloela's Flourish Festival, where the family were guests of honour, immigration lawyer Carina Ford indicated to the media that she expected the family could receive the visas within a week."It's so wonderful to see we may be seeing a change in refugee people and the way we treat people who arrive by boat," she said.

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"It's wonderful, and I'm pretty certain we won't be too far off. Maybe a week. Maybe less."

A man, two women and three children stand smile on stage.A man, two women and three children stand smile on stage.

Priya (R) and Nades Nadesalingam (C), and their daughters Kopika (bottom L) and Tharnicaa (bottom C), along with their family friends wear traditional attire during a fashion parade on 11 June, 2022 in Biloela, Australia. Source: Getty / Dan Peled/Getty Images

Campaigner and family friend Angela Fredericks said she had a personal call with new immigration minister Andrew Giles before this weekend. According to her, Mr Giles told her to “relax”, and to ensure the family “feels like they are home”.Earlier, Home To Bilo campaigner Bronwyn Dendle said the “wheels are in motion” for the family's permanent residency to get processed.

These comments came after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said there is "no impediment" to the family settling in Biloela permanently.

Nadesalingam family wearing traditional clothing surrounded by photographersNadesalingam family wearing traditional clothing surrounded by photographers

The Nadesalingam family are guests of honour at Biloela's Flourish Festival, which celebrates the town's diverse community. Source: SBS News / Rayane Tamer

“You should never underestimate the power of the people - especially the people of Biloela,” Ms Dendle said.In the official welcome of the family, Gangulu woman Natalee Waterton said the Nadesalingams experienced the same tragic fate as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.“We call that the Stolen Generations, except for them it was their whole family.”

“Now they are home. Good on you Bilo. Let’s reconcile.”

Biloela mayor Nev Ferrier welcomed the family home at the town's civic centre in front of a packed crowd, with a ringing round of applause filling the hall."(People) don't realise just how great a community we have here ... we look after each other," Mr Ferrier said."It's been recognised all over Australia, what sort of community we are ... it makes you feel very proud."

Priya also addressed the crowd through a Tamil translator.

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“When I touched this land, feel like I was reborn," she said."I will dedicate my life to the Biloela community. My children will study here they will have their best lives here."Ridhijain Gupta, one of the organisers of the festival, said it meant a lot for the family to arrive home in time for the event."It means a lot to ... the Biloela community, and to Flourish. Flourish is about integration and strengthening the community and Priya and Nades' family is part of that, and I really welcome them," she said.

"It's lovely, it's fantastic. It's amazing."

Several people stand in a line showcasing their costumes.Several people stand in a line showcasing their costumes.

Ten cultural groups featured at this year's Flourish Festival, showcasing their customs, costumes, song, dance, and love for the country. Source: SBS News / Rayane Tamer

Flourish Festival celebrates central Queensland's diversity, with a program consisting of music, performances, market stalls, interactive workshops, as well as food and information stalls.People from all walks of life and the world participated in a fashion parade, flaunting their traditional dresses on a makeshift runway at Biloela’s civic centre, made all the more special by the cheers and encouragement from the community crowd.To mark the end of the festival, scores of people packed in the hall sang in unison a song that all know well, I am Australian.Ms Gupta said the family had been a "source of strength" for Biloela, particularly the migrant community. "It is fitting, because it's about strengthening the culture between all communities, so it is amazing. We are welcoming all cultures together with different traditions."

"I think this gives great courage to migrants, this is where the strengthening starts."

Ridhijain Gupta wearing a sashRidhijain Gupta wearing a sash

Ridhijain Gupta, one of the organisers of Flourish Festival, says she hopes the festival acts as a message to welcome migrants. Source: SBS News / Rayane Tamer

Anthony Albanese indicates support for family to be issued with permanent visas

Earlier, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he sees "no impediment" to the Nadesalingam family receiving permanent visas once the process is complete.

After exhausting their other legal options, the only way the Tamil asylum seeker family can be issued with permanent visas is through the intervention of the Immigration Minister or Home Affairs Minister.

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Speaking to media on Saturday morning, Mr Albanese said it was "heartening" to see the family welcomed home to Biloela on Friday, after the new federal government ."They received a welcome from a town that wanted them home," he said.

"This has been an exercise that... Australia can't be proud of [to see] a family - including two young girls who were born here in Australia - taken in the middle of the night and having four years in detention."

"We are a better country than that. We can do better than that. My government will do better than that," he said. He said he foresees no barriers to the issuing of permanent visas to the family. "Those processes will take place. The only way that it could happen is for the way that it has, the visa being issued, and then that application will go through."But I see no impediment to that occurring."Nades and Priya are Tamil asylum seekers who fled persecution from Sri Lanka in 2012 and 2013, arriving by boat in Australia. After making the town of Biloela their home in 2014, the family was removed by Australian Border Force officers from the town in 2018 after Priya's visa expired.For the past four years, the couple and their Australian-born daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa have been battling to seek asylum, with the support of a community campaign.

They have never been granted refugee status in Australia.

The family was officially welcomed by the Biloela community with the Flourish Festival on Saturday afternoon before celebrating Tharni's fifth birthday on Sunday.Family friend and campaigner Angela Fredericks thanked supporters around the country for helping to elevate the family's plight."All they have ever wanted is to just be a family and to just live in safety in our community. So it's a very joyous moment," she said on Friday."Australians have shown that we care. Australians have shown that we can unite... we can ignore the narrative of fear and division, and we can come together as one."

With AAP.

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