Tharnicaa Murugappan will celebrate her first birthday outside of detention with a pink party on Sunday.
The four-year-old girl and her family arrived at Perth Airport this morning to board a plane for Biloela, Queensland, ending a four-year immigration battle.
The Tamil family of four, who have been facing deportation since 2018, are set to become Australian citizens after the Albanian government intervened a few weeks ago and granted them bridging visas to return to their community from central Queensland.
Priya and Nadesalingam Murugappan, who arrived by boat as asylum seekers a decade ago, and their two Australian-born daughters, Kopica and Tharnicaa, were arrested on Christmas Island in August 2019.
They were later transferred to community detention in Perth after Tharnicaa suffered a blood infection.
Speaking at the airport, Priya thanked the Perth community for the support she had received since arriving in Western Australia’s capital last year.
“My family and I are very happy to begin our journey back to my community in Bilo,” she said.
“Thank you all in Perth, thank you WA.”
Her eldest daughter, Kopika, said she was happy to fly.
Residents of Biloela hung welcome signs and baked cakes in anticipation of the family’s arrival.
Home to Bilo campaign coordinator Angela Fredericks will accompany the family on their flight to Brisbane, the first leg of their journey home.
“It’s such an exciting morning,” she said. ABCRadio.
“We’ve been talking for the past few days about the town of Bilo and reminiscing and they’re so excited to get back there.
“The girls are so excited to fly with their parents – they’ve been on many plane trips over the past four years, but they’ve all been through horrific circumstances.”
She said she hoped returning to Biloela would be the start of the healing process for the family.