A Tamil couple and their two young daughters are under enormous mental strain as they await the outcome of their desperate battle against deportation, a friend says.
The family's supporters are also worried they could be hit with an "impossibly heavy debt" if their bid to stay in Australia falls short.
Angela Fredericks has gone to Christmas Island to support her friends, who will be sent back to Sri Lanka as early as Friday if they lose a last-ditch legal bid to remain here.
She says she had to fight for permission to spend time with Priya, her husband Nadesalingam and their Australian-born children Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 2.
When finally allowed inside the Christmas Island facility where they are being held, she said the family's mental torment was very difficult to watch.
"The weight of Priya in my arms, just sobbing ... there's just so much heart-break, and so much fear and distress," she told AAP from the island on Thursday.
"The girls ran up to me and held onto my legs. Kopika, she was always such a cheeky, bright little girl. I see so much frustration in her now.
"Yesterday she was just playing with sticks. Her actions, you can see it, she was just hitting the ground with the stick. I feel like her innocence has gone."
Ms Fredericks said a plane was waiting on the tarmac at the island's airport, waiting to take the family away if they lose a court hearing on Friday relating to the youngest child's case for Australia's protection.
Supporters are also concerned about the fee the family may be forced to pay if their legal fight fails.
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Senior Lawyer Nooshee Mogadam said every time a person seeking asylum appeals a court decision, the federal minister seeks court costs from them if the matter is dismissed.
They can also rack up a debt for their deportation.
Ms Fredericks has set up a campaign on crowd-funding platform GoFundMe to raise $300,000, with people so far donating $54,000.
Despite widespread support for the family to be allowed to remain in Australia, the Morrison government has refused to intervene.
The Federal Court has ordered the government not to deport the family until 4pm on Friday so it can continue hearing Tharunicaa's case for protection, with other courts previously finding her older sister and parents do not qualify.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday that he would accept the court's decision, but again pointed to previous court rulings that found "there is no asylum claim here".
He also accused the Labor leader of "flip flopping" on illegal boat arrivals because it was popular at the moment.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese travelled to the Queensland town of Biloela on Wednesday, where the family had been living on a temporary visa.
He denied that Labor's support for the family indicated a policy shift, given more than 2000 Sri Lankans found to be economic migrants were deported in 2012 and 2013 when the party was in power.
He said the government should intervene on the basis that Nades worked at the Biloela meatworks - a business that couldn't source enough local workers to operate.
Priya and Nades settled in Biloela, where they had their two children, after arriving separately by boat in 2012 and 2013 following Sri Lanka's civil war.
Nades fears his links to Hindu Tamil Tigers insurgents, who battled Sri Lanka's majority Buddhist government during the war, means he could face persecution if he goes back.
But the federal government says Nades has been back to Sri Lanka several times and that undermines his claim he faces a dangerous situation.
The government is fighting Tharunicaa's claim for protection, saying it's "futile".
© AAP 2019