Priya and Nades Marugappan and their two daughters had been living in the small town of Biloela before they were taken to Christmas Island in 2019 as illegal immigrants.
Today, in an open letter to Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), who represent over 25,000 physicians, and eight other medical bodies said they held extreme concerns for the family’s wellbeing.
RACP Acting President and Paediatrician, Dr Jacqueline Small issued a statement on behalf of medical professionals.
“We know that Australia’s detention program is harmful to the physical and mental health of those held, especially children.
“We are extremely concerned that this family has been held in indefinite detention for more than 1000 days; on Christmas Island since August 2019 and in mainland Australia prior to that from March 2018. This is most of Tharnicaa’s life.
“Being held in detention presents an extreme and unacceptable risk to children’s health, development and mental health. These risks are particularly high for infants and toddlers in held detention. If detention is prolonged, the consequences may be long term or permanent.
“We’re calling on the Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, to listen to the medical experts and immediately release this family from detention as a renewed sign of compassionate and humane Australian leadership.
“We want the Australian Government to listen to what medical experts have been saying for years now, that Australia must also release all asylum seekers from detention facilities and provide them with support they will need for this transition,” Dr Small said in the statement.
Liberal National MP Ken O’Dowd and Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman said the asylum seeker family should be allowed to stay.
Priya and Nades are both Tamil, a group that has been persecuted in Sri Lanka.
They have an older daughter, Kopika. Both girls were born in Australia.