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Dozens of Anglican Bishops nationally send open letter to Government calling for the return of young family back to Biloela

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“As Christian leaders, we echo the call for a compassionate, fair, safe, common sense and permanent solution. We stand in solidarity with this young family seeking peace, safety and stability, and with the Biloela community who are waiting to welcome them back home,” write dozens of Anglican Bishops in an open letter to the PM and The Minister for Immigration

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16 June 2021

To: The Minister for Immigration, the Hon Alex Hawke MP
The Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP
The Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Karen Andrews MP
The Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Michael McCormack MP

CC: The Hon Anthony Albanese

Re: Bring Nades and Priya and their girls home to Biloela where they belong

Biloela is a powerful story of a small rural town with a big heart, which has welcomed a courageous young family seeking peace, freedom, safety and stability.

As Christian leaders, we write to each of you welcoming your government’s decision to release Nades and Priya and their daughters, Kopika and Tharnicaa, from immigration detention – but only as the first step to bringing the family back home to Biloela where they clearly belong. This young family has become an integral part of the tight-knit Biloela community, where they volunteered, worked, participated in church groups and built close friendships for nearly four years.

However, in March 2018, your government chose to detain this young family, first in Melbourne and then on Christmas Island, after they were forced from their Biloela home by armed government officers in a dawn raid.

Forcibly returning Nades and Priya to Sri Lanka was, and remains, an unsafe option, as abduction, torture, unlawful detention and sexual violence of Tamils at the hands of Sri Lankan security forces continue to be reported.

Every parent has the right to build a life with their children in safety and with a measure of certainty about their future. After spending well over three years in immigration detention, Nades and Priya, along with their young girls, need stability to rebuild their lives. Granting the family visas and allowing their return to Biloela will enable them to do so.

Robust studies show that detaining children severely impacts their mental, emotional and physical health long-term. Returning these young girls to their home town of Biloela, where they are cherished by people they know, will enable the healing process to commence following the trauma caused by several years of immigration detention.

We are told that Nades wants to return to his job in Biloela to support his young family, which he cannot do while the family is forced into community detention. Priya wants to enrol Kopika at Biloela State School to continue her education. And, the Biloela community wants to make good their promise to celebrate young Tharnicaa’s fourth birthday with her, after she needlessly marked every birthday in arbitrary immigration detention.

Under the Migration Act, The Minister for Immigration the Hon Alex Hawke MP has the ability to grant the family members the visas they need for a permanent solution so they can rebuild their lives.

Our great country is behind this family. More than half a million people signed a petition calling for the family’s release and immediate return to Biloela. They are joined by medical professionals, children’s advocates, elected representatives (including from your own parties), educators, academics, broadcasters, business owners, peak bodies and community leaders.

As Christian leaders, we echo the call for a compassionate, fair, safe, common sense and permanent solution. We stand in solidarity with this young family seeking peace, safety and stability, and with the Biloela community who are waiting to welcome them back home.

Sincerely,

The Right Rev’d Jeremy Greaves, Bishop for the Northern Region, Anglican Church Southern Queensland
The Right Rev’d Clarence E Bester, Bishop, Diocese of Wangaratta
The Right Rev’d Mark Calder, Bishop, Diocese of Bathurst
The Most Rev’d Dr Phillip Aspinall AC, Archbishop, Anglican Church Southern Queensland
The Right Rev’d Dr Peter Stuart, Bishop, Diocese of Newcastle
The Right Rev’d Donald Kirk, Bishop, Diocese of Riverina
The Right Rev’d Ian Coutts. Bishop, Diocese of Bunbury
The Right Rev’d Dr Keith Joseph, Bishop, Diocese of North Queensland
The Right Rev’d Jeremy James, Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Perth
The Right Rev’d Denise Ferguson, Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Adelaide
The Right Rev’d Dr Chris Jones, CEO Anglicare Tasmania and Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Tasmania
The Right Rev’d Mark Short, Bishop, Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn
The Right Rev’d Grant Dibden, Bishop to the Australian Defence Force
The Right Rev’d John Roundhill, Bishop for the Southern Region, Anglican Church Southern Queensland
The Right Rev’d Cameron Venables, Bishop for the Western Region, Anglican Church Southern Queensland
The Right Rev’d Paul Barker, Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Melbourne
Mrs Anne Hywood, General Secretary, Anglican Church of Australia
The Right Rev’d Matt Brain, Bishop, Diocese of Bendigo
The Right Rev’d Kay Goldsworthy AO, Archbishop, Diocese of Perth
The Right Rev’d Kate Prowd, Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Melbourne
The Right Rev’d Richard Condie, Bishop, Diocese of Tasmania
The Right Rev’d Dr Michael Stead, Bishop of South Sydney, Diocese of Sydney
The Right Rev’d Rod Chiswell, Bishop, Diocese of Armidale
The Right Rev’d Peter Lin, Bishop of Georges River Region, Diocese of Sydney
The Right Rev’d Chris McLeod, Bishop alongside Aboriginal Peoples
The Right Rev’d Garry Weatherill, Bishop, Diocese of Ballarat

Editor’s note 16/06/2021: Following publication of the above, three additional Bishops have added their signatures to the open letter, these being:
The Right Rev’d Dr Murray Harvey, Bishop, Diocese of Grafton
The Right Rev’d Prof Stephen Pickard, Executive Director, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture
The Right Rev’d Sonia Roulston, Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Newcastle

Editor’s note 17/06/2021: The following was added:
The Right Rev’d Tim Harris, Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Adelaide

Note from Bishop Jeremy Greaves

The open letter may be downloaded.

Here are four things you can do to help support this young family:

  1. Pray for Priya and Nades and their daughters and all involved in making decisions that affect their lives.
  2. Visit this webpage and write a polite email to your elected representative asking them to advocate for Priya, Nades and the girls to be brought home to Biloela.
  3. Visit this webpage and then call your elected representative asking them to advocate for Priya, Nades and the girls to be brought home to Biloela.
  4. Join in vigils in Brisbane, Canberra and Sydney on Saturday 19 June.

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