The ‘Home to Bilo’ campaign attracted crowds protesting against the detention of the Tamil family, highlighting issues within Australia’s refugee policies.
Protestors are calling for the Government to change it’s approach to people seeking asylum, and welcome those who are in dire need of their support.
The family sought refuge in Australia several years ago, and found a home in a small QLD town.
The Australian Border Force took Priya, Nades and their young QLD-born daughters from their home and placed them in detention, and for the last 10 months have been held on Christmas Island.
Last week, Priya Tamil was flown to Perth to receive medical care she could not receive on the Island, and after treatment and testing, a few days later Priya was sent back to detention.
“The medical symptoms that she was experiencing have been diagnosed and told it’s a result of detention fatigue…” said Refugee Rights Action Network, Michelle Bui.
Father Chris Bedding, from the Anglicans Social Responsibility Commission, said long standing research and evidence has shown the longer people are locked up, the greater effect it has on their wellbeing; which is both a physical and emotional response to what they’re experiencing.
“For more than two decades now we’ve been seeing the effects of people who’ve come here traumatized and desperate for our help, and instead of helping them, we lock them up, put them through draconian legalistic processes and harm them in the end, instead of helping them,” Father Bedding stated.
Ms Bui explained Priya’s access to her phone had been revoked, meaning she could not contact her husband, support advocates or legal representation.
“The advocates who were trying to make contact with her said she was screaming on the phone, and she was quite distressed about the whole situation because she’d been told she would be moved to another location and was denied speaking to a legal representative,”
“And they haven’t been able to get in contact with her since then,” she said.
Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton wants to send them back to Sri Lanka, however the Refugee Rights Action Network demand the Federal Government to release the family back to their Biloela community.
“I think it’s also a reflection of the system more broadly, while we’ve heard a lot about this family, they’re not the only ones who are facing these or similar circumstances, I think there are systemic issues that will need to be resolved to prevent this from continuing,” commented Ms Bui.
“We’ve seen from successive immigrations ministers under all forms of federal government, that there is a lack of compassion and understanding about the genuine lived experience,” said Father Bedding.
“The government firstly needs to change its approach to people seeking asylum. We need to welcome people who are in dire need and give them the support that they need,”
People who’ve been in immigration detention now need help to recover and to integrate into Australian society, and I think a relatively small amount of money, and a relatively high amount of commitment is required to help those people to flourish in our communities,”