Biloela children becoming sick from detention

The following is a media release from the Tamil Refugee Council.

The Tamil Refugee Council has condemned the ongoing detention of a Tamil family removed earlier this year from their home in Biloela, central Queensland, after a new medical report noted emerging behavioural problems in the children.

The family – Priya, Nades and their infant daughters Kopiga, 3, and Tharnicca (Dharuniga), 14 months – has been held in Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation, Broadmeadows, for more than six months. 

According to a family medical report given to the Tamil Refugee Council, the isolation and stress are taking a toll.

“[Kopiga] is showing behavioural disturbance and disorganised play and attachment since her time in detention … Parents report [she] bites her own hands, frequently”, the report notes.

“[Tharnicca] is also showing behavioural disturbance and disorganised play since her time in detention, which is now of a prolonged duration …

“The family have been very isolated in detention, and the conditions described are not appropriate for young children, particularly the lack of contact with other children, and restrictions on their freedom of movement. No playgroup or early childhood learning in place.”

The minister for home affairs used discretion and invoked “humanitarian” grounds to grant tourist visas for nannies. But this family’s only “help” is three Serco guards escorting them to the medical clinic, at which detention is diagnosed a health risk, and then escorting them back to isolation.

Meanwhile, new prime minister Scott Morrison is attempting to ingratiate himself with the public – he’s the “daggy dad” PM; the family man next door who talks about “the values I have as a parent”.

But his purported values don’t extend to this family. The real values of the Coalition government are being felt behind the fences and walls of the Broadmeadows detention centre, where a family’s spirit is being suffocated.

The Tamil Refugee Council is calling on the Australian government to end its attempts to deport the family, return Priya, Nadesalingam, Dharuniga and Kopiga to their home in Biloela, and to give Priya and Nades permanent protection so they can build their lives and raise their children in peace.