A Tamil asylum-seeker family is “nervous” about entering community detention in Perth after two years on Christmas Island.
The Murugappan family was relocated to Perth after four-year-old Tharnicaa was sent there for medical treatment.
They will be allowed to stay in the West Australian capital until their legal fight against deportation is resolved.
But they will not be allowed back to their Queensland home town of Biloela, and the government has not decided whether any of the family members can reapply to stay in Australia.
Family friend and Biloela resident Angela Fredericks was reunited with the family on Thursday at Perth Children’s Hospital, where Tharnicaa is continuing her recovery.
She said the family had been overwhelmed by offers of support from the community in Perth but were anxious about what lies ahead.
“I have spoken to Priya about how they’re feeling about community detention and she’s very nervous. She doesn’t know Perth at all,” Ms Fredericks told reporters.
“She is just so incredibly strong, but Priya just wept in my arms and said ‘this is so hard’.
“This family has been through more than anyone can imagine … we are still determined to protect this family, to get them back home to Biloela, where they belong.”
Defence Minister Peter Dutton has expressed his frustration at the campaign to let the family return home to Biloela.
He has long argued they are not owed protection and should be sent to Sri Lanka.
“It’s been a frustrating case because every court, every tribunal, every decision maker has been very clear to this family that they are not refugees,” Mr Dutton told Nine Entertainment.
“This family has not ever been found to be owed protection.”
Mr Dutton claimed showing the family compassion would send the wrong signal to people smugglers.
“We’ve got to be very careful,” he said.
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said it was “preposterous” to suggest people smugglers were watching the case.
“This is a family of a meat worker, his wife and two Australian-born kids from a regional town in Queensland,” Mr McGowan told reporters.
“They should just let them go back there and live out their lives.”