The department's plan to help S included buying her a toddler's walking aid called a Jolly Jumper, which Family Court judge Richard Chisholm felt inadequate.
'The important thing in this regard is how it came about that S's care was so poor that her muscle development came to be delayed,' he noted in a judgement over their release.
'Inserting a particular device into an unsatisfactory environment seems to me so far from any real solution that it does not warrant detailed discussion.'
Justice Chisholm concluded he did not have the power to make interim orders for the family's release.
But he asked the Immigration Minister, Philip Ruddock, to give careful and compassionate consideration to the family's urgent needs.
This appalling story is a suitable memorial for Philip Ruddock's administration of the immigration portfolio, now that he is moving to attorney-general as part of the reshuffle