HORROR AND HEARTBREAK HEADS TOWARDS HAPPINESS
by Neil Jenman
Reading Time: Apx 10 mins
The story of the family known as “The Tamil Family” is likely the most famous refugee story in Australia’s long and controversial immigration history.
Most Australians are familiar with the story.
A couple from Sri Lanka has been trying to migrate to Australia. They are Nadesalingam Murugappan and Kokilapathmapriya Nadesalingam. The shorter version of their names are Nades (him) and Priya (her).
Nades and Priya met in Australia. They married in November 2014. They had two little girls, both born in Australia. They are Kopika now aged seven and Tharnicaa who turns five this Sunday June 12, 2022.
In September 2019, Peter Dutton, now the leader of the Federal Opposition, reportedly referred to the children as “anchor babies” meaning, in his opinion, they were conceived to enhance the family’s chance of permanent residency.
Nades and Priya moved to the Central Queensland country town of Biloela in 2015.
Nades got a job with Teyes Australia, the local meatworks. On its website Teyes boasts that it “produces 1.7 billion beef meals each year.”
Despite this massive production, Teyes always needs workers. To meet this need, they arrange for South Sea Islanders, especially Fijians, to obtain work visas. These immigrants fill the jobs that many locals don’t want. The work is hard and unpleasant – as with most “meatworks” which were once known as “slaughterhouses”.
Nevertheless, being a “foreigner” and with limited English skills, Nades took what he could get. He worked hard and, by all reports, was an excellent employee.
In his spare time, Nades volunteered at Vinnies (St Vincent de Paul). Priya was the homemaker. They soon became popular members of the close-knit Biloela community.
On a Monday morning (March 5, 2018), shortly after their visas expired, Nades and Priya were woken at 5 am. There was loud banging on their door.
Police officers plus Border Force officers plus SERCO guards came to arrest them. They were given ten minutes from being woken to pack their possessions. It was an impossible task, so they left near everything behind.
This heartbreak would soon descend into horror.
The two adults and two children – one then aged two years, the other 9 months – were taken into custody, driven to a waiting plane, and flown to Melbourne. Nades and Priya were handcuffed on arrival and separated from the children.
It was the start of a nightmare lasting more than four years. They were placed in detention, first in Melbourne, then Christmas Island and, more recently, Perth.
The Biloela community – from their neighbours to their friends, to their employers at the meatworks – rose that Monday in March to find the entire family snatched from their midst.
A group in Biloela rallied to highlight the plight of what became known as the Biloela family. They used the slogan – “Home to Bilo”. They arranged protests, lobbied politicians, and garnered hundreds of thousands of supporters in ceaseless efforts to bring the family “home to Biloela”.
The Federal Government, under then Prime Minister Scott Morrison, refused to budge. Despite many of their own party – such as Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop, and Barnaby Joyce –supporting the family’s return to Biloela, it did not happen. The then Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, said the family were “not real refugees”. His opinion is hotly contested. If the family were returned to Sri Lanka, their supporters believe that, at the least, Nades would face torture, perhaps execution.
On May 21, 2022, following the Federal Election in Australia, the Labor Party replaced the Liberal Party. Within days, interim Home Affairs minister, Jim Chalmers, called Nades and Priya. He gave them their best news in years. They were going home to Bilo.
Most of Australia was overjoyed.
It has reportedly cost the Australian taxpayers more than $17 million to hold this family in detention for four years.
Yesterday, (Thursday June 9, 2022), Australia’s new prime minister, Anthony Albanese, told a press conference: “The Bilo family were loved and wanted by their local community. This guy – Nades – worked at the local meatworks. We import people to work in meatworks because we can’t find enough workers. And here we grab this family in the middle of the night, took them down to Melbourne. Then took them to Christmas Island. Then they’ve ended up in Perth after these little girls who were born in Australia and got not just mental health issues but physical health issues as well. I’m very proud we’ve brought this family home. I’m very proud and the community will be as well. No people should be treated in that way.”
The journalist, Mike Carlton, commented: “Decency and humanity at long last.”
ENTER FRED AND WILMA
Although they are my friends, they wish to remain anonymous. So, I will respect their wishes and call them Fred and Wilma.
I want to use their story as an example or a beacon of hope for the way so many of us treat each other today. Especially those of us who have grown ever more wealthy thanks to no fault of our own – the massive property boom.
Sure, I believe we should all create financial security. If you have read my book, ‘Success Takes Character’, however, you may recall a principle known as ‘The Doctrine of Enough’.
When we have a meal, we know when we’ve had enough. When we fill our cars with petrol, the pump clicks off when the tank is full. We’ve got enough. Why don’t we calculate our ‘enough’ figures when it comes to wealth?
Many of us would then realise that we don’t “need” nearly as much as we think we need – especially when it comes to “happiness”. And no, I am not going to say money does not make you happy. Money worries – especially debt – cause an enormous amount of unhappiness.
But I will say many Australians have far more money than they will ever need. Especially many of us aging baby boomers. We have reached our ‘doctrine of enough’ and we don’t even know it. We keep accumulating and accumulating. And then we die. Rich. And our relatives party.
Why not have the party now? Experience the joy of “giving” rather than have it “taken” after you’ve gone.
Why not do what you want to do with your money while you have it?
I learned a long time ago that there are only two reasons to have money. The first is to give yourself freedom to do what you want to do when you want to do it.
The second reason is where Fred and Wilma come into this story – and where they “meet” the people going home to Bilo.
That reason is this: To help people who, through no fault of their own, are less fortunate than ourselves.
My dear Mum (rest in peace. Bless her soul etc) always told me: “Darling, it is better to give than to receive.”
She was right.
It is often said that there are only two types of people in our world – givers and takers.
Givers lead happier lives – regardless of how much financial wealth each possesses.
Two years ago, when the Melbourne property boom was roaring towards its peak, Fred and Wilma decided to auction their home. They had retired, the kids had left home and, well, you know the story. Time to downsize – and maybe grab a bit of cash.
This is when I met Fred. I told him that he “didn’t sound either ignorant or idiotic”. He asked what I meant. I told him that only people who are misinformed or unintelligent would auction their homes, especially in a boom.
I showed him how to cancel his auction and sell his home correctly by private negotiation. This worked brilliantly for him and Wilma – as it does for everyone who takes the time to understand how, selling a home by public auction is tantamount to throwing money away.
Fred and Wilma ended up with about half a million dollars more for their home than they would have received at auction.
But there was one problem. [There are always problems in life. We need to see them as “challenges” and try to be sure we don’t have the same problems.]
Fred and Wilma had nowhere to live.
They hadn’t found another home by the time they had to move out of their home.
By this stage, my wife (Reiden) and I had become good friends with Fred and Wilma.
And so, we let them move into our home in Melbourne.
This was the first year of Covid, so we were unable to travel to Melbourne. Neither did we want to be there and participate in the lockdowns that gripped the lovely city for months.
All homes – especially those containing love and warmth – need to be occupied. If empty for too long, well, things go wrong.
Fred and Wilma took great care of our home. It was almost six months before they found the right home. We did not charge rent. They got “mates’ rates”. That happens with mates.
FRED AND WILMA’S INVESTING JOURNEY.
Having sold their former family home and bought a ‘downsizer’, Fred and Wilma now had surplus funds. They wanted to invest in real estate. Being in their mid-60s, they were keen to get a good financial return.
Now, I do not charge consumers for real estate support. Sometimes, however, I often think (or wish) that I could find a way to tell more people how to invest safely and successfully in the real estate market. But to be frank, I am frightened of attracting greedy people.
Fred and Wilma are not greedy people. They are beautiful people. They are givers.
And so, over the past few months, I helped them find and buy two excellent properties that give great percentage returns and will provide them with healthy cash-flow – much higher than the pittance from today’s bank deposits.
One of those properties happened to be in Biloela which also happens to be the nearest large town to where my wife and I (and two of our sons) now live (on our farm) in Central Queensland.
Fred and Wilma bought the home in Biloela in April. It is in a lovely street and in great condition – three bedrooms with a huge back garden. At one stage, they were approached by the meatworks company and offered $600 per week – there were going to be four overseas workers living in the home. Based on their purchase price of $327,000, that would have given them a return of almost 10 per cent.
Frank and Wilma decided they’d rather rent to a family.
As mentioned, the two homes they bought – the other was in Tassie – were both excellent. Not only did they offer a good return, they both appreciated in value – quite impressively so.
Fred and Wilma have constantly offered to pay my wife and son and I for our help in finding these homes. We have constantly said no. Other than book sales, we do not charge consumers, especially for our support when buying and selling.
At one stage, Fred said to me: “Neil, at least let me pay you half of any profit I make.”
Again, I said no.
One of my friends recently said that I get great joy out of helping my friends do well. That’s true. But not just friends, I love to help any good people.
And yes, on many occasions we do get paid – in a roundabout way – especially when people sell their homes with our support. The agents pay us a support fee – which is not passed on to the sellers.
I am quite happy – indeed very happy – to help as many people as I can. I detest those real estate gurus who say they “want to give something back to society” and then they ask consumers (“society”) to pay them upwards of $30,000 each.
That’s not giving. That’s taking – in the classic sense.
Recently, Fred and Wilma heard about the Tamil family and how they needed a home in Biloela. Fred discovered that another friend of ours had offered to pay the first six months rent to him and Wilma. This meant, of course, that the Tamil family – Nades and Priya and Kopika and Tharnicaa – could live rent-free for six months.
“Wait,” said Fred. “I am not going to accept six months rent from your friend, Neil. Wilma and I will be pleased to give these good people six months’ free living in our new home in Biloela.”
And our friends are still wanting to pay six months as well.
Therefore, the Tamil family will effectively have 12 months free rent.
As many people have been commenting (on my Twitter account) this is a great outcome given what this family has suffered.
This week, when news broke that the Tamil family had been offered free rent by the owner of a home in Biloela, a shy Fred was keeping his head down. But he did take the time to text my wife and say: “Reiden, what we are doing feels really good.”
So, there you have it: A baby-boomer property investor is feeling good renting his home to a family at no charge. Indeed, he is feeling better receiving no income from it (for six months) than he would have felt had he rented the home to the meatworks for the $600 per week they offered.
To give the readers of this article an indication of the character of this Tamil family, we have been told – via their ‘Home-to-Bilo’ support group spokesperson Angela Fredericks – that Nades is very grateful for the generosity shown to his family. However, he has stressed that once he is back at work – and on his feet financially – he is unlikely to need free rent for long.
He wants to pay his own way.
That’s certainly not the character of a taker.
GOOD NEWS SPREADS.
Enter the Ray White Group.
On Wednesday night they emailed me and said: “We wish to help the Tamil family settle in safely and as best as possible back to Biloela. The White family would like to match the six months free rent.”
That takes the offer of “free rent” to 18 months.
As mentioned, however, it is unlikely that the family will need rental assistance for so long.
But they are coming home to Biloela with little more than the clothes on their backs. This week, the ‘Home-to-Bilo’ group have been busily preparing the home for them. They have been purchasing everything from knives-and-forks to beds and blankets and fridges and furniture. At the home yesterday, one of these Biloela “angels” – a near 80-year-old local lady called Marion – was measuring up the fridge size for them.
And the media spokesperson for Ray White, Alex Tilbury, said: “Whatever this family needs, please let us know. We will be delighted to assist. This is what we do. There is a Ray White presence in Biloela. We are keen to support all local communities where we have an office.”
This afternoon (Friday June at 2:25 pm), the plane carrying the Tamil family will touch down at the local Biloela airport (at Thangool).
It’s going to be a magnificent homecoming.
Thanks to the angelic supporters led by Angela Fredericks and everyone else who has worked so hard to help this family.
From the solicitor who prepared the lease agreement at no charge for Fred and Wilma who are offering rent for six months at no charge, to another anonymous benefactor who’s doing the same, to the Ray White Group and their generosity.
Although I am not the recipient of any of this largesse, I feel I need to say thank you because I am receiving something that feels so much better than any financial reward.
Like Fred and Wilma, I am feeling good.
Thank you to all the givers involved in this story.
If you would like a copy of my book which showed Fred and Wilma how to sell for such a great price, please click here. Any profits go to assist the victims domestic violence.
If you would like a copy of the book, Success Takes Character, which explains more about what I feel should be the true meaning of success, please click here.
And, if you need help to sell, buy or invest in property, we will be pleased to assist you at no charge. You can call us on 1800 1800 18 or email email@example.com.
If, however, we give you support like that given to Fred and Wilma, we will be pleased if you do what they are doing with some of their profits – GIVING to those less fortunate. Thank you.