Three of the young women allegedly molested by school teacher Malka Leifer will lobby national leaders on Wednesday, as they call on the federal government to pressure Israel to have the accused woman returned to Australia.
Dassi Erlich and her two sisters Nicole and Elly, will travel to Canberra accompanied by federal minister Russell Broadbent on Wednesday to meet with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Opposition leader Anthony Albanese, Attorney-General Christian Porter and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, among others.
Attempts to have Ms Leifer, a former headteacher at an ultra-orthodox Jewish school in Melbourne, brought back to face justice in Australia have dragged on for over five years.
Last week, Australia’s former ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, said a Jerusalem court’s failure to extradite the alleged serial pedophile had damaged ties between the two nations.
The delays have sparked allegations of corruption and political interference.
Ms Erlich said the government could be doing more to help them seek justice for the alleged sexual abuse and that it was time for the former teacher to answer to the 74 charges against her.
“We’re a little bit nervous but definitely looking forward to raising this issue with the government and hoping to have them put pressure on the Israeli government to do more,” she told The New Daily.
“We’re going to be asking them for advice and to increase the pressure.”
The sisters previously met with then-PM Malcolm Turnbull, who put pressure on Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
Ms Erlich said it was time for Mr Morrison’s government to take charge.
“The government can do more, Malcolm raised it with the Israeli PM. Now we’ve started the process again, we’ll be asking the PM to repeat this and anything they can to do more to help,” she said.
“I think anything less will be seen as indifference.”
In the five years, 30 psychiatrists have already been involved in determining if Ms Leifer is faking her illness to void detection.
She was previously released on bail after claiming she was too unwell to leave her home. But private investigators obtained videos of her living normally in a Jewish orthodox settlement, shopping and socialising.
The process has been taxing on the three sisters.
“It’s taken a huge toll, it’s definitely impacted our lives for a long time,” Ms Erlich said. “It’s my life, but I’ve come to an acceptance that this is what we need to do, it’s much bigger than Leifer now.
“We just want to say we know how hard it is, to stand up, to have a voice, and to really go through something like this. It’s not unusual for there to be delays, but it’s so important not to give up.”
There is growing pressure on the Australian government to oversee the Leifer case.
Former premier Ted Baillieu has been an outspoken advocate for Ms Leifer’s alleged victims, previously telling The New Daily the legal process had become a farce.
“This process has been a farce from the start. We’re over 50 hearings, approaching 60,” Mr Baillieu said.
“With a decision overnight we’re back to the start. It’s all been a complete and utter waste of time. It’s tortured victims and it’s put the justice system on trial.
“I urge the Prime Minister to make their dissatisfaction very clear, to utter their public support … and demand any further trial process are consistent with the extradition treaty.”
Mr Sharma told federal parliament last week the delay in getting Ms Leifer back to Melbourne was “not only an affront to justice but deeply traumatic for the victims of this abuse”.
“I expected it would be a straightforward case, that the wheels of justice would turn and that within the space of 12 to 18 months we would see Ms Leifer extradited to Australia in order to face justice for these most grave and serious charges levelled against her,” he said.
“But I regret to report that, in the five years that have since elapsed, we seem to be no closer to seeing this extradition request fulfilled,”
“It is damaging to Israel’s reputation, and it is increasingly becoming a point of contention and friction in our otherwise positive and productive relationship with Israel.”