The youngest daughter of a Tamil family involved a high-profile legal battle to stay in Australia has now spent two-thirds of her life in detention, and her situation does not look likely to change soon.

Nadesalingam Murugappan, known as Nades, and Kokilapathmapriya Nadesalingam, known as Priya, and their Australian-born daughters Kopika, five, and Tharnicaa, three, were living in Biloela, in central Queensland, when they were put into immigration detention in March 2018.

They have been on Christmas Island for more than a year.

Tharnicaa was nine months old when they were taken into detention and the family may have to wait months to learn the result of their latest Federal Court appeal, which was heard virtually this week.

The family’s lawyers are fighting for Tharnicaa’s case for asylum to be approved through an appeals process to a Federal Court ruling in April that found her case should not be automatically reassessed.

During the same ruling the court found she was denied procedural fairness in her initial application for asylum.

The Commonwealth argues the girl’s case is linked to the rest of the family’s bids for protection visas, which were denied in 2017.

The Minister for Home Affairs is cross-appealing the ruling that Tharnicaa was not afforded procedural fairness.

‘Why can’t we go back to Biloela?’

Family friend Angela Fredericks said the endless waiting game between court processes was taking its toll on the girls.

“It’s fine for us — we go about our lives while these decisions are being made, though this family continues to be kept in a detention facility over on Christmas Island,” she said.

“In March we’re coming up to three years since they’ve been detained and we know the damage this is causing, particularly for those young minds — I think that’s what is the real agonising part in all this.

“Kopika, as she’s gotten older, she’s now starting to ask some really tough questions that Priya and Nades really struggle to give her answers to.

Ms Fredericks said the travel ban and restrictions experienced by all Australians this year had been tough, but she hoped it helped give a small insight into what the family was going through.

“We’ve all complained this year as to how our plans have been quashed … we’ve all felt that loss,” she said.