Ballarat’s mayor demands security from Labor, as the asylum seeker family marks eight years in ‘limbo’

Ballarat’s mayor urges the federal government to provide a much-loved family of asylum seekers with greater security when they mark their eighth year, stuck in “limbo.”

Neil Para, his wife Sugaa Neil and their three school-age daughters moved from Sri Lanka to Ballarat in September 2013 on a bridge visa.

But Mr Para said their visas were revoked for no apparent reason just four months later.

The couple has since sought asylum and has not been able to work legally.

They cannot access public services such as Medicare and Centrelink.

“We are still in limbo. No visas, nothing at all,” Mr Para said.

“We want to work, but are unable to work.”

‘The height of cruelty’

The Para family is committed to giving back to their communities despite their challenging situation.

Sir. Para is a volunteer in the Victoria State Emergency Services Ballarat Unit, and Mrs. Neil is a volunteer in the City Visitor Information Center.

Mayor Daniel Moloney called on the federal government to end the Para family’s “cruel” ordeal as Australia marked its annual refugee week.

“It’s another level of cruelty when you actually say to a refugee family, ‘you can not work, you can not earn an income and are dependent on others,'” Mr Moloney said.

“It’s just the height of cruelty.”

a man wearing a white checkered shirt in front of a lake with reeds
Daniel Moloney calls on the federal government to provide security for the Para family.(ABC Ballarat: Christopher Testa)

He said he and former mayors had written to the former Morrison government in a push to ensure family safety and “pave the way” for permanent citizenship.

“We love what Neil and Sugaa have done for us,” he said.

Sir. Moloney said the sympathy shown by the federal government for allowing other Tamil refugee families, the Murugappans, to return to Biloela in central Queensland should be extended to the Para family.

“They are in almost exactly the same situation,” he said.

“Fortunately, they have not been forced into offshore imprisonment … but there are many similarities.”

In a statement, a spokesman for the Department of Home Affairs said it did not comment on individual cases but “non-citizens who have exhausted all options to remain in Australia are expected to leave”.

Refugee pushes for reforms

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