A Queensland family taken from their home and placed in a Melbourne detention centre more than a year ago have lost their final bid to stay in Australia.
The Tamil family were removed from Biloela in March 2018 during a dawn raid, angering the central Queensland rural town and leading to nationwide protests by refugee advocates.
The Home to Bilo campaign was established in an attempt to overturn the family’s impending deportation and they lost their Federal Court appeal to remain in the country in December.
On Tuesday, the High Court refused Priya, Nades and their two Australian-born daughters, Kopika and Tharunicaa, special leave to appeal the Federal Court ruling that they could not remain in the country and were to be deported.
The couple came to Australia separately by boat in 2012 and 2013 following Sri Lanka’s civil war, but have been in detention for 14 months after their bridging visa expired.
In January, rallies were held across the country, including outside Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s office in Strathpine, north of Brisbane.
Family friend and Home to Bilo spokesperson Angela Fredericks called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to stand by his values and give the family a “fair go”.
“After living, volunteering and working in Biloela for over four years, Priya and Nades have had more than a ‘go’ at contributing to the little town that became their home,” she said.
“Biloela wants this family back.”
Smaller gatherings were also held outside federal MP offices in Gladstone, Sydney and Melbourne as well as in a Canberra park.
The family were issued with a deportation notice in June last year after the federal government ruled they couldn’t stay.
But their removal from Australia was put on hold after they made an 11th-hour appeal to the Federal Court in August.
Ms Fredericks has previously described the family’s ordeal as “pure psychological torture”.
“Each time they’re getting more and more exhausted. It’s just the psychological drain of not knowing and the constant fear [of returning to Sri Lanka],” she said.
Almost 190,000 people have signed a petition urging Mr Dutton to return the family to Biloela. (Courtesy Brisbane Times)