— Health

Daughter of Biloela Tamil family marks her fourth birthday in hospital as a decision on their future looms

The youngest daughter of a Tamil asylum seeker family detained on Christmas Island is celebrating her fourth birthday in the hospital amid speculation over the family’s future. Tharnicaa Murugappan was medically evacuated to Perth Children’s Hospital with her mother, Priya, after more than ten days of high fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. She was later diagnosed with a blood infection caused by untreated pneumonia, friends of the family said. Her condition has stabilized, but on Saturday, she celebrated her fourth birthday, separated from her father, Nades, and five-year-old sister, Kopika. They were forced to remain on the island.

The family has been detained on Christmas Island, about 2,600 kilometers from Perth, since August 2019, when an urgent court injunction blocked their imminent deportation to Sri Lanka. Tharnicaa has never celebrated a birthday outside of detention. In a recorded birthday message from the island on Saturday, Nades and Kopika expressed their love for their daughter and sister.

Happy birthday Tharnicaa; I miss you; I love you,” they said.

Tharnicaa’s hospitalization has sparked renewed calls for Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to use his ministerial discretion to grant the family visas. At the same time, a legal action centered on Tharnicaa’s right to apply for protection continues. SBS News understands a decision on the family’s future is possible within days. Nine newspapers on Saturday reported there could be a resolution within two weeks, quoting Nationals MP Ken O’Dowd. His electorate includes the small Queensland town of Biloela, where the family lived before they were taken into immigration in 2018. Mr. O’Dowd reportedly urged Mr. Hawke to use his discretion to allow the family to settle in Australia.

He agrees with me; it’s gone far too long,” he told the papers.

“It’s now in [Mr. Hawke’s] lap, so to speak, and he says he’s got about 2,000 pages of documentation to go through. But hopefully, he’ll have a resolution in two weeks.”


The family has been in detention since 2018.


Nationals MP Darren Chester told ABC News on Saturday that his understanding of conversations about the family was continuing. Still, managing Australia’s border security and compassion for the family was a balancing act. I know across Australia there is enormous compassion, empathy, and concern for the welfare and wellbeing of the family and the young girl in question,” he said.

The last thing we want to see is people getting on to boats and having the situation with people drowned at sea.” His comments came after Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman told ABC he had contacted Mr. Hawke to express his support for the family to remain in Australia. I think it is time we put this to an end and bring them back to the mainland,” he said on Saturday. Mr. Hawke declined to comment as the matters were still before the court.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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