Tamil family daughters enjoy their first day of school in Queensland after they spent two years detained on Christmas Island
- Tamil asylum-seeker family’s girls are all on smiles on their first day at school
- Family friend tweets ‘they loved it’ as the girls look adorable in blue uniforms
- Nadesalingams settling back into Biloela after dramatic four-year battle to stay
- After being denied refugee status they spent two years on Christmas Island
They could be any other Aussie school kids but the beaming smiles on the faces of Kopika and Tharnicaa Nadesalingam reflected a special joy at attending their first day of school.
It’s the type of normalcy that is a far cry from the two years they spent with their parents Nades and Priya as the only occupants of the reopened Christmas Island detention centre.
Tharnicaa, 5, tightly grips the straps of her oversized pink school bag, which come with an attached toy pink unicorn while Kopika, 7, stands straight showing off her impressive hair plaits in a pic tweeted by Seven News journalist Ebony Abblitt.
Tharnicaa, five, and Nadesalingam, seven, are all smiles on their first day at school in the Queensland town of Biloela in another sign the family is beginning to enjoy a normal life after their high-profile four-year battle against being deported to Sri Lanka
‘And they loved it’ replied an account run by family friend and local social worker Angela Fredericks, who has led the fight to let the family stay.
The might have many more years of schooling ahead of them if their mother gets her way.
“I hope they go to study, they go to university … I hope their future is [to become] doctors,” she told The Guardian after the family returned to the outback Queensland town of Biloela.
The photo is another sign the Nadesalingams are beginning to enjoy a typical Australian family life that for so long seemed out of reach as they and their advocates fought a protracted and dramatic four-year battle to stay in the country.
Tharnicaa’s fifth birthday welcomed the family back to Biloela and here she is seen adjusting her outfit watched by her parents Priya (left) and Nades (right)
The girls are attending a private Christian denomination school in Biloela after the Albanese Government granted their parents Nades and Priya a bridging visa.
They were welcomed back to the Queensland outback town of Biloela with a fifth birthday party for Tharnicaa on June 12.
That balloon-festooned occasion saw the girls dressed in pink dresses and wearing tiaras while cutting into huge pink-iced cakes, one of which had a koala on it symbolising their hope to stay in Australia permanently.
This 2019 photo shows the Nadesalingams thanking their supporters after they were sent to the Christmas Island detention centre where they spent two years fighting deportation
Ms Fredericks said the family was ‘getting more and more relaxed each day’ and were ‘so incredibly grateful’ for the love and support they were receiving from the Biloela community.
Priya and Nades met in Australia after arriving by boat in Australia as asylum seekers fleeing the civil war in Sri Lanka and they married in 2014.
Both their girls were born in Australia.
They were granted a bridging visa and settled in Biloela but were denied refugee status and in March 2018, the Morrison Government attempted to deport them and they were sent to a Melbourne detention centre.
This led to a high-profile campaign to let the family stay in Australia with a series of legal battles that often polarised public opinion.
An 11th-hour court injunction saw the plane that was meant to take them back to Sri Lanka ordered to land in Darwin in August 2019.
The family then spent two years in the Christmas Island detention centre, which was reopened solely for them.
Tharnicaa was forced to spend her fourth birthday in Perth Children’s Hospital after being medically evacuated from Christmas Island to be treated for sepsis caused by untreated pneumonia.
After that they were moved to community detention in Perth before they were given bridging visas by the Albanese Government in one of its first acts in coming to power.
The family are seeking permanent residency, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese seeing ‘no impediment’ to it being granted.
Earlier this month conservative commentator Peta Credlin said in an opinion column that the family should have returned to Sri Lanka after they lost a High Court challenge against deportation, and that being allowed to stay in Australia would encourage more arrivals from countries such as Sri Lanka.