The government, through the Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force (ABF), is committed to the welfare of all individuals within Australia’s Immigration Detention network.
The family had a dedicated health care team on Christmas Island that included a doctor, nurses and access to specialists as required.
As soon as the ABF was advised by treating medical practitioners that specialist medical treatment for the child was appropriate, the child was transferred to a hospital in Western Australia with her mother. Her father and sister were later reunited with their daughter and sister in Perth.
The family will reside in suburban Perth, through a community detention placement, close to schools and support services, while the youngest child receives medical treatment from the nearby Perth Children’s Hospital and while they pursue ongoing litigation before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Federal Court and High Court.
However, I understand this issue is important to you, and there appears to be a lot of incomplete and inaccurate information in the media, which is why I hope a quick summary of the complex history of the case is helpful.
Many migration cases have their own unique set of difficult circumstances. The case of this family is one of these.
The mother and father were unauthorised boat arrivals in 2012 and 2013 respectively. They were part of the 50,000 people who arrived on 800 boats under former Prime Ministers Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard. Both parents were placed in detention under the former Labor Government and were assessed as not being owed protection under the United Nations definition (ie. they are not refugees).
As such, they were informed by the former government that they would never be permanently settled in Australia. Unfortunately, they did not accept that decision. They have since accessed our legal system to apply to many Australian courts for review.
Each time, the original assessment was confirmed that they are not owed protection.
Prior to having children, the family were informed there was no prospect of them remaining in Australia. Like many other countries, Australian law says that children born here to non-citizens adopt the status of their parents.
With the end of the civil war in 2009, Tamils from around the world have safely returned to Sri Lanka and been accepted back by a democratically elected Government in that country. This includes more than 1,500 who had arrived in Australia by boat.
As you can see, the circumstances of this family are not entirely unique – they have the option to leave detention and return to Sri Lanka at any time.
The government’s strong border protection policies have succeeded in putting an end to the horrendous loss of life that occurred when people were put on dangerous boat journeys by criminal people smugglers.
We have been fair, clear and consistent for a long time; we are not going to allow criminal people smugglers to resume their deadly trade.
History shows us the tragic consequences of allowing exceptions to our strong border protection policies.
The government has a responsibility to act in the national interest – I’m sure you’d agree that the resumption of unauthorised boat arrivals and more people risking their lives is not in anyone’s interest.
Australia remains one of the most generous humanitarian resettlement countries in the world. Our Humanitarian Migration Program has 13,750 places in 2021-22, upholding our long-term commitment to refugee resettlement.