DETAINED FAMILY: Child hospitalised, senator demands review
A LABOR senator has demanded a review of the detainment of a Biloela family, as concerns grow for their welfare following the hospitalisation of the two-year-old daughter this week.
Sri Lankan asylum seekers Priya and Nades and their two daughters Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 2, have been held at a Melbourne detention centre since March last year after Priya's bridging visa expired.
Family friend Angela Fredericks said Tharunicaa was hospitalised last Thursday night after she was struck by a heavy blackboard that fell off a wall in the centre's activity area.
She said for five hours the centre manager refused to allow Tharunicaa to be taken to hospital, despite her vomiting after she was struck by the blackboard around 4pm.
After she vomited a second time Tharunicaa was taken to hospital at 11.30pm, where she was diagnosed with a head injury, Ms Fredericks said.
Ms Fredericks said the girl was returned to detention, but was taken back to hospital hours later after her parents noticed she was having difficulty walking.
"After everything they have gone through, Priya and Nades are deeply distressed and frightened for their little girl," Ms Fredericks said.
"This latest incident confirms what everyone knows all too well. Detention centres are no place for children and families."
Labor senator and spokesperson for immigration and citizenship Kristina Keneally has demanded the Federal Government review the family's case based on its merits.
In a letter to Minister for Immigration David Coleman recently, Ms Keneally said a final decision should be made "as a matter of priority".
"Ultimately, this issue needs to be resolved so that the family can rebuild their lives and I urge you to listen to the Biloela community's views when making this decision," she said.
"One of the most concerning aspects of the family's story is their ongoing detention, spanning well over a year.
"Two children have now spent a significant amount of their lives living in immigration detention, all while Peter Dutton is claiming that he 'got all children out of detention here in Australia' - a claim that is simply untrue."
Ms Keneally also raised concerns for the daughters' health well-being including Tharunicaa's ongoing dental health problems.
Advocates say Tharunicaa requires surgery to address serious dental damage related to vitamin deficiency and malnutrition suffered in detention.
In June the High Court refused Priya and Kopika's application for a review of last year's Federal Court ruling that they could not stay in Australia.
Fearing persecution if they are forced back to Sri Lanka due to the family's former links to the Tamil Tigers, an asylum plea has been lodged for Tharunicaa.
It's understood the family will not be deported until the girl's case is finalised.