Tharnicaa Murugappan will celebrate her first birthday outside of detention with a pink party on Sunday.
The four-year-old and her family arrived at Perth Airport this morning to board a plane home to Biloela, in Queensland, putting an end to a four-year immigration battle.
The Tamil family of four, who has been facing deportation since 2018, are one step closer to becoming Australian citizens after the Albanese government intervened to weeks ago and granted them bridging visas to return to their community in central Queensland.
Priya and Nadesalingam Murugappan, who arrived by boat as asylum seekers about a decade ago, and their two Australian-born daughters Kopica and Tharnicaa were detained on Christmas Island in August 2019.
They were later moved to community detention in Perth after Tharnicaa suffered a blood infection.
Speaking at the airport, Priya thanked the Perth community for the support they had received since arriving in the West Australian capital last year.
“Me and my family are very happy to start our journey back to my community in Bilo,” she said.
“Thank you to all in Perth, thanks WA.”
Her older daughter Kopika said she was happy to be going on a plane.
Biloela locals have hung welcome signs and baked cakes in preparation for the family’s arrival.
‘Home to Bilo’ campaign coordinator Angela Fredericks will travel with the family on their flight to Brisbane, the first stop on their journey home.
“It is such an exciting morning,” she told ABC Radio.
“We’ve been talking the last couple of days about just the town of Bilo and we’ve been reminiscing and they’re just so eager to get back there.
“The girls are so excited to be going on a plane with their parents – they’ve been on lots of plane trips over the last four years, but they’ve all been in horrific circumstances.”
She said she hoped the return to Biloela would be the start of the healing process for the family.