Home to Biloela

Priya Nadesalingam, Rebekah Holt

Home to Biloela
Allen & Unwin
3 October 2023

Home to Biloela

Priya Nadesalingam, Rebekah Holt

It was dawn in the small rural town of Biloela. Loud thumping on the front door signalled the start of a four-year odyssey that would catapult Priya and her family into national debate. For the first time, Priya shares the story of her sheltered childhood in war-torn Sri Lanka, and her perilous escape across the Indian Ocean on an overcrowded and leaking fishing boat. Alone in a strange country, she had to make a new life without family or friends. She marries Nades and settles with him in Biloela, where they have two daughters.

The shocking dawn raid was the first of multiple attempts by Australian government to deport the family. But the people of Biloela wouldn't have it. A small group swung into action, and built an extraordinarily powerful social media campaign that broke through into the mainstream, gathering support from hundreds of thousands of ordinary Australians around the country. Journalist Rebekah Holt has been following the family's journey over the four long, painful years, and she recounts the dramatic behind the scenes efforts to prevent the family from being deported.

Finally, Priya, Nades and the girls were all granted the permanent visas they need by the new government, and they were able to return home to Biloela in the happiest ending they could have wanted.

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