Donations for shattered family-By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Donations for shattered family-By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Donations for shattered family-By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Rithish Kirushnaneethan, 4, perished in a tragic house fire in Leonard Street, Dandenong on 25 July 

Community groups are rallying around a shattered family who lost their four-year-old son in a tragic house fire in Dandenong.

Rithish Kirushnaneethan died despite desperate attempts to rescue him from his bedroom as his family home was engulfed in flames about 10pm on Sunday 25 July.

Victorian Tamil Association as well as a separate Go Fund Me page have been set up to collect cash and donations for the grief-stricken and homeless family.

The asylum-seeker family lost all of their savings and belongings in the awful inferno.

As of noon on 27 July, the Go Fund Me page had collected more than $17,000 from 270 donors. All proceeds will go towards Rithish’s funeral expenses as well as accommodation, furniture, clothing, and food for the family.

Tamil Community Association secretary Murugesu Paramanathan said the association was also being “overwhelmed” by donations of cash, clothes, furniture and white-goods.

Friends close to the family say they believe a heater and possible gas leak may have been involved in the fire.

Rithish’s mother was cooking in the kitchen when she noticed the couch and then the room engulfed in flames.

His nine-year-old brother and three-year-old sister were rescued by the mother and a family friend boarding at the home.

The boarder suffered serious burns in trying to go back into the house to save Rithish, who had been sleeping in his bedroom.

The man was taken to The Alfred hospital in a stable condition.

The mother suffered cuts to her hands and smoke inhalation as she tried to break through Rithish’s bedroom window.

Rithish’s father returned from running errands to find the home consumed by fire.

The asylum-seeker family had arrived in Australia after a long journey by boat from Sri Lanka in 2012. They had been detained on Christmas Island and in Adelaide, and remained on a bridging visa for nine years, according to the Go Fund Me page.

They had moved into their home from Perth two weeks ago.

After their discharges from hospital, they are staying with a relative in Pakenham.

Go Fund Me page co-organiser and Greater Dandenong councillor Rhonda Garad said the family was “gutted”, with the mother particularly distraught by the tragic loss of her son.

“She is eating herself alive with guilt.

“She said her son wanted to go to bed early and so she was cooking in the kitchen and just saw the flicker of flames and them the whole area was on fire.

“She is beyond broken.”

Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre deputy chairperson Wicki Wickiramasingham said Dandenong’s vast refugee community was shocked.

“The family survived war, cyclones and they came all the way from Sri Lanka by boat. It’s so very bad for them – a family of young children.

“In Sri Lanka they feared for their life. I’m just really, really sad for them.”

He urged the community to come to the aid of the family.

Cash donations can be made to Tamil Community Association BSB 063 894, account number 1049 6414 or go to the Go Fund Me page at

Tamil Community Association volunteers are also available to collect donated clothes, furniture and whitegoods from homes. Details: Murugesu Paramanathan, 0408 360 865 or

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