Court decides Biloela family's fate
FRIENDS of a Tamil asylum seeker family facing imminent deportation have begged federal Immigration Minister David Coleman to "have a heart" and intervene so they can stay in Australia.
The High Court of Australia has today refused Priya and Nadesalingam and their Australian-born daughters, Kopika and Tharunicaa, special leave to appeal last year's Federal Court ruling that they could not stay in the country.
The couple came to Australia separately by boat in 2012 and 2013 following Sri Lanka's civil war, and quickly became much-loved members of the Biloela community, in central Queensland.
Nadesalingam was a valued employee at the local meatworks, Priya used to take her homemade curries to the doctors at Biloela Hospital, and their children were regulars at the local playgroup.
However, their dream of making a new life in Australia quickly began to unravel in March last year when they were taken into custody by Australian Border Force officials during a dawn raid on their Biloela home, because their bridging visa had expired.
They have been in detention in Melbourne ever since.
Family friend Angela Fredericks, who has been at the forefront of their fight for asylum, said the High Court's decision was not unexpected but has left her "feeling absolutely gutted".
"We've known from the get-go the court system and the whole process is weighted against people who arrive by boat," she told AAP.
But she said the fight was not over yet.
"The High Court was never deciding on whether this family needed protection, they were just looking at whether any mistakes were made in the legal process," she said.
She has called on Mr Coleman to urgently intervene.
"He can step up, he can make all of this go away," she said.
"Please, have a conscience, have a heart and help this family."
Ms Fredericks said the family faced a bleak future if deported, with Nadesalingam facing persecution because of his history with the militant organisation the Tamil Tigers.
"They know the military has still been knocking on Nadesalingam's family's door saying 'let us know when they're back' - they're waiting for them," she said.
The minister's office has been contacted for comment.