Cult support worker encourages Nowra sect followers to look at the facts

Nowra's Order of St Charbel sect stop their followers from critically thinking to the point where they can become psychologically trapped, the head of a cult assistance support group says.

ABC, Australia/November 13, 2014

With the news convicted sex offender and leader of Nowra's Order of St Charbel William Kamm will be released on parole within a week, attention has fallen back on life within the religious sect's compound at Tapitallee.

Despite their leader, nicknamed Little Pebble, serving the last nine years in jail for a sex offence, there are still followers living on the Order of St Charbel's property in Nowra.

Ros Hodgkins is the head of the Cult Information and Family Support Service in NSW and says she's treated people who have come out of the Nowra sect.

"It's good to hear when people are able to see the reason that's taken them into this group but there are still followers of Kamm, so that's always concerning," she says.

"What I've heard is a lot of people have become disillusioned but there are still those who'll hang on and believe by face he is who he says he is.

"They then find they've committed 15-20 years to the cause and it's difficult for people to walk away."

She says their mindset prevents them from thinking any negative thoughts about their group because it's reinforced as a sin.

Having their leader convicted and sentenced like Kamm can also be turned into a positive for the group, who can believe he is being persecuted in the same way Jesus Christ was.

How to break out

Ms Hodgkins says people are usually drawn into cults by the 'ordinary look of the group'.

She says the best way to break out of a cult is to try and return some rationality to your way of thinking.

"I say look at the information that's available - information is the fuel we use to make decisions.

"If we don't have information, how can we make a correct decision about anything?"

She says cults follow a common formula of a group with a demanding leader that has no accountability, but instructs the followers with an absolute belief on what they must follow.

The group then becomes stronger because people are willing to give their life to a cause.

Her advice for people wanting to leave the Order of St Charbel in Nowra is to consider the information of what William Kamm has been convicted of.

"People should stop and think about those things pertaining to Little Pebble and to what he has professed and how he has caused incredible harm to many people- especially young girls.

"People should critically think about it and know you're not leaving something that's God's movement.

"It's a man who has set himself up to have a following of people to do his bidding and be part of his power play."

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