Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has met with a Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seeker family who returned to central Queensland last week after more than four years in immigration detention.
Albanese has taken his senior cabinet to regional Queensland this week and stopped in Gladstone today.
It was there he met with the Nadesalingams, who arrived in Biloela on Friday afternoon.
Priya, Nades, and their two Australian-born daughters, Kopika and Tharnicaa, are living in the central Queensland town on bridging visas granted by the new Labor government.
The family was able to thank the Prime Minister in person today and family friend Angela Fredericks said he assured them a solution for permanent residency was on the way.
“Today we walk away feeling really reassured and knowing that we have more happy days that will be coming”, Fredericks said.
“We didn’t know if we would actually to get to talk to the Prime Minister today, but it was so important for Priya and Nades to be able to convey their thanks.
“It was really heart-warming to watch them be able to embrace the Prime Minister … and the Prime Minister assured us that a solution is on the way.”
No time frame was given on when permanency would be announced.
The family was taken into immigration detention in 2018 after their bridging visas expired.
The federal government consistently and comprehensively assessed the Nadesalingams’ case for asylum and found Australia was not obliged to protect them.
When Labor won the election the family was granted bridging visas, allowing them to return to Biloela.
During his press conference, Albanese once again said the decision to allow the family to stay rested with Immigration Minister Andrew Giles.
“I’ve said before I see no impediment to the family being settled permanently in Australia, but that will be a decision for the Minister,” he said.
Albanese subsequently addressed a crowd at a community meeting in Gladstone.
“I went to Biloela in 2019”, he said.
“I went there and saw for myself a community that was caring, a community that just wanted to look after their own — including these two little girls, who I had the privilege of meeting this morning.”
Albanese said he was proud to lead a country that “expressed such warmth” at then-Acting Home Affairs Minister Jim Chalmers’s decision to allow them to return to Biloela.
The family was officially welcomed back by the Biloela community at the Flourish festival on the weekend and five-year-old Tharnicaa celebrated her fifth birthday on Sunday, her first outside of detention.
Priya Nadaraja said it had been wonderful to be back in her community.
“Thank you to the Prime Minister,” she said.
“I’m back to my community, I’ve made wonderful friends. My mind is relaxed”.
Kopika and Tharnicaa said they were looking forward to starting school next week.
“I’m very excited to see my teacher,” Kopika said.
Source: ABC News