Cult Activity In New South Wales

Debate resumed from an earlier hour.

NSW Legislative Council Hansard/April 22, 1993

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH [2.30]: I was referring to an organisation known as Kenja. I spoke about the mechanisms used by cults to blackmail families and friends of cult members, and cult members themselves if they wish to leave the cult or do in fact leave the cult. If the family or friend of a cult member in any way attacks or criticises the cult, contact will be broken off with their daughter, son, brother or sister. Cult recruits are required to confess and write down all their darkest secrets on the pretext that they can only free themselves of these blots on their character by the so-called counselling that they undertake. These events are later used to blackmail them if they attempt to leave the group.

Family members of Kenja recruits have come forward reluctantly and have asked for anonymity, for fear of this type of emotional blackmail. Because of the confessions that they have made to Kenja leaders, ex cult members are also fearful of blackmail. They also fear intimidation from the cult leader, who promotes himself as a person familiar with and expert in the use of violence. I have written evidence of this in the form of numerous signed letters and oral evidence that I have recorded on tape. This evidence is quite detailed and may be provided to a select committee, if one is established.

Kenja has been described as part of the human potential movement because its major advertising and recruitment theme is that of personal development. It advertises in the Yellow Pages under the front name Personal Evolvement Centre, under the category of Training and Development. It has used a number of front names, including the Kenja Personal Ability Centre, Kenja Social and Sporting Club, Kenja Entertainment Club, Canberra Communication Consultants in association with the Kenja Training and Development Centre, and the Communication Centre of Melbourne. It offers something for everyone.

The Hon. Franca Arena: It is obviously a big business.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: It is a big business; it offers something for everyone. It advertises eisteddfods, plays, shows, sporting events, social events, workshops, cultural activities, one-to-one work, lectures and classes. An important part of Kenja is an activity known as klowning, which is now spelt with a K. A former member of Kenja who ran a Kenja centre in a capital city for six months, and who has provided me with a damning statement about the organisation, said the original klowning was devised in Paris for acting but that Jan Hamilton has used it in a personal evolvement sense as therapy to find the clown, the child within oneself. It operates like a drama workshop, with people dressing up with red noses and silly costumes. The former member says "theatrically it is great, a really fun way to discover your own spontaneity".

The hook is that in order to continue with the klowning and other social activities, recruits must attend what are called processing sessions with Ken Dyers and then with others who have been described at various times within the organisation as professionals, full-timers or processers. They are now called, I believe, meditation consultants or MCs. The purpose of all the advertised activities promoted by the Kenja organisation is to induce people into one-to-one, so-called processing sessions, which are an important part of the mind control regime.

A former Kenja member who was involved in Kenja some years ago said, "That was the work, really. That is what it was all about, the processing". Though the so-called processing sessions may involve unethical pseudo-therapeutic or hypnotic techniques, they are now but a part of a regime of social and psychological methods designed to structure the behaviour of Kenja recruits, who seem to join at a vulnerable point in their lives. The functions of this structure include isolation, deprivation, regimentation and intimidation. An important characteristic of all destructive cults is the use of mind control or what some academics might prefer to call mind influencing techniques.

The American-based Cult Awareness Network lists seven features of mind control techniques used by destructive cults, which do not all have to be present simultaneously for a mind control regime to operate. These include group pressure and love bombing, which discourage doubts and reinforce the need to belong, through the use of childlike games, singing, hugging, touching or flattery; isolation and separation, which creates an inability or lack of desire to verify information provided by the group with reality; thought-stopping techniques which introduce recruits to meditating, chanting and repetitious activities which, when used excessively, induce a state of high suggestibility; fear and guilt, which is induced by eliciting confessions to produce intimacy, and to reveal fears and secrets, to create emotional vulnerability by overt and covert threats, as well as alternation of punishment and reward; sleep deprivation, encouraged under the guise of spiritual exercises, necessary training or urgent projects; inadequate nutrition, which is sometimes disguised as a special diet to improve health or advance spirituality or as rituals requiring fasting; and sensory overload, which forces acceptance of complex new doctrine, goals and definitions to replace old values by expecting recruits to assimilate masses of information quickly, with little opportunity for critical examination. Elements of most of these features are evident in Kenja. One former member of the organisation signed a letter but has asked not to be named. She said:

This was achieved by the principles of Kenja . . . insisting that those in Kenja have no contact with families or friends (unless they become involved with Kenja) and that they live with other Kenjans and get into cash producing businesses with other Kenjans. They achieved this by extreme peer group pressure, the time commitment required by Ken and Jan, which precluded a normal working arrangement (classes and activities were often scheduled during the day) and public pressure (being carpeted) by Ken and Jan themselves . . .

I was constantly pressured into giving up any spare time to working at car washing to earn money to go directly to Kenja, or working on the maintenance of the building. Free time was very rare as each night of the week was spent at a class. The day usually began with a 7 a.m. meeting, I would then go to work, go straight to Kenja from work for a class, then attend one or more meetings after class. This would mean that I would not get home until midnight, when I would sleep and get up the next morning at 6 a.m. to begin the whole thing all over again.

I also had to find time for three "processing sessions" per week which took 1 1/2 hours each. This was usually done at the weekend although each month I had to attend a seminar which included Friday night for setting up, both days for the seminar, Saturday night for a class and Sunday night for cleaning up. Other weekends were taken up with making money for Kenja through car washing or doing maintenance or renovation work on the building. Also compulsory leisure activities and meetings were scheduled at weekends so free time was very limited. Even leisure activities are constructed so that free time is utilised within a Kenja framework.

Another Kenja member who has gone on the public record - and it takes some courage to do this - is Annette Stephens, who has also written me a letter. Annette Stephens says:

I was a member of Kenja from early 1982 to February 1992.

I helped set up the Melbourne Centre and was its first Director. I was a Meditation Consultant in Sydney for two years until October 1991, including a stint as Director of Energy Conversion. I have attended classes and seminars in Melbourne, Sydney, Noosa and Canberra and ran Energy Conversion sessions in Tasmania.

I was a devoted member of Kenja. I believed any distress I experienced was for my own benefit, that when I became a clear spirit I would be at the forefront of a new world. I believed the technique to be the research of Ken Dyers and 100 per cent infallible. I believed all the claims as to the effectiveness of his technique to be attainable with the application of his data and the use of Energy Conversion.

In fact I spent my time on a mind numbing high, had adopted an alien belief system, wore the Kenja "uniform", worked long hours, I had given up my profession (teaching) and future security to become a door to door salesperson, lost my house and assets, had become a liar, had cut myself off from friends and had left my children . . .

I was confused and upset and believed leaving to be the best thing for my children. I was congratulated by Jan Hamilton for leaving my family, selling my house and burning my bridges behind me.

After two years I returned to my children, later when faced with leaving them again or leaving Kenja, I chose to leave Kenja. The Kenja rule that you cannot live with anyone taking alcohol or medication meant I had to make a choice. After one year Kenja contacted me and I went back as I had been unable to live in a society that didn't understand my belief system. I was rewarded by becoming a Meditation Consultant.

I became increasingly disillusioned with Kenja but never thought of leaving until I read "Combating Cult Mind Control" by Steven Hassan . . .

When I left I felt like I was in two places at once, couldn't enunciate words, my eyes felt gritty and dry, couldn't make decisions, couldn't remember 90 per cent of my time in Kenja, had nightmares, flashbacks, two car accidents while "spaced out" driving, couldn't sleep, couldn't work and cried most of the time. I had less than $10 and virtually no assets apart from an old car.Kenja knew of my financial state but had no hesitation in booking me in for a $100 session. I left.

Families are broken up by Kenja. The techniques used have changed in response to publicity and perceived public opinion. Initially both Ken Dyers and Jan Hamilton told people publicly to leave their families, now it is done by Kenja members, mostly M.C.'s who know the rules. At one stage a group of Kenja children lived separately from their parents. Kenja puts on a public show of concern, denies this happens and hides behind the Ethics. Kenja has a public agenda and a hidden agenda families are never given any indication of the latter. Families may even initially be pleased their child has become involved in an alcohol free social group.

Since leaving Kenja I have had contact with parents who say they have been afraid to express opposition for fear of losing the limited contact they have. Although understandable this allows Kenja to claim that families approve of their child's involvement. My involvement in Kenja caused my family much pain, they know now I was a victim of a cult. I consider it a miracle that I now have a close relationship with my family.

I have a letter from Bev Garlick which evidences similar concerns about the organisation. I seek leave to have the letter incorporated as an addendum.

Leave granted. [See Addendum II.]

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: Kenja leaders claim they act ethically and as if to prove this they have issued an ethics document. Sadly, on its face the document is false propaganda and double-speak. For example, ethic No. 12 states "The family unit is respected and created and no one interferes destructively with the family unit". The truth is that families of recruits are cut off from contact with Kenja recruits if those family members do not join Kenja or support its activities. Perhaps there is a perverse logic or internal consistency in the Kenja edict. Perhaps the family unit is double-speak for the Kenja family unit which has been created, and perhaps to the Kenja leader, critics of the organisation are interfering destructively with the Kenja family. One former Kenja member said in relation to his natural family that he cut from them because, stupidly, he believed that if people were not for Kenja, they were against it. The people who were not actually involved were people who were, in the words of the game of Kenja, suppressive and not enhancing their own lives, "so it is better that we do not communicate with them".

Letters from families of Kenja recruits reveal similar types of stories. I have letters from parents who have been cut off from contact with brothers and sisters and even from children who have been cut off from contact with their Kenja parents. The prohibition of drugs and alcohol as a feature of Kenja is a classic technique of destructive cults. A drug-free environment sounds squeaky clean, but the truth is that to a Kenja person even a person who drinks alcohol socially is unacceptable. Of course there are exceptions to all rules. Ken Dyers is allowed to do as he wishes, because he is supposedly the enlightened one. He is a clear on the scientology scale, which all Kenja processors are required to buy and study. It is a feature common to all destructive cults that they are led by a charismatic leader. In Kenja, Ken Dyers fits that mould in some respects. One former member said:

 . . . his eyes would just, that was the one thing that would be constant, that would be looking into your eyes, so that to begin with you'd be feeling quite uncomfortable that someone was so intent to look into your eyes, and you'd seem to fish around to try and find the problems that there are so in a way you'd think he's reading your mind and he knows what your thoughts are. And this is what he encourages everyone to think - that he actually does know what you're thinking, and that he's got quite amazing metaphysical powers that he can actually be in your body, and experiencing what you're experiencing right now. So you're encouraged to think that he's a magical man, that he's totally enlightened.

Ken Dyers' privileged position seems to extend to sexual gratification, using his position of authority to exercise his prerogative over female members of the organisation. One former senior member of the organisation wrote about her experience.

Dear Mr Mutch

Note: While I am happy for the contents of this letter to be read by you in Parliament, I do not agree to the use of my name.

I can understand why. The letter continues:

I am writing to you now to discuss some details of a personal and intimate nature that describe the abuse of trust involved in the relationship I had with Mr Ken Dyers, who was my therapist.

The letter continues:

Jan had by this stage also stated that in order to do clowning, we must attend weekly private sessions with Ken. About six months after starting weekly sessions with Ken, my relationship broke up. Within one week I had a session with Ken where he suggested that we conduct our session naked . . . This mode became the norm in our sessions.

While it seems unbelievable to me now, at that stage I felt dependent upon Ken's approval . . . I especially needed the approval from a powerful authority figure that Ken provided and over time, became more and more dependent upon it. Naturally I was encouraged to do this by Ken, who worked hard to become the primary relationship in my life. It was this and the trust I felt I could place in Ken as a therapist that enabled me to push aside normal barriers to allow this kind of behaviour.

During our weekly sessions, Ken became more and more interested in exploring the sexual hang ups he felt I had. This involved more touching and stimulation in the genital area, mutually, as Ken felt I needed help in this area. This escalated to involve oral sex on my part . . .

I still believed that Ken would sense the discomfort and turmoil I was feeling about this and would stop. He didn't. Eventually, Ken suggested that we try his new "process" that involved lying down. I still believed in my incredible naivety that Ken was doing this to help me with the sexual problems I was not aware of having. We had sex and afterwards he thanked me for it. I asked him why he was thanking me as it was meant to be a level of therapy. I felt extremely uncomfortable about the whole thing and asked Ken why this was all necessary, his answer was "You want to clear don't you?" This meant that I had to accept any procedure in the name of resolving emotional conflict. Fortunately at this time I was expelled from professional processing, and lost the privilege of having advanced sessions with Ken . . .

I discovered that in a session with a fellow female Kenjan, she too had been through the same procedure with Ken. Some time later, Ken asked the women in an advanced class to raise their hands if they had slept with him. Of the 10 females present, at least 8 put up their hands.

It distresses me that women and girls may be experiencing this kind of treatment. Through confidence shattering experiences people can and do become so emotionally vulnerable that they will condone situations they would normally have nothing to do with. As I have outlined in my previous letter, Ken works diligently to cut people off from their home, family and friends and encourages the utmost dependence on Kenja and primarily upon him. Once he has achieved this, proven by my experience, he then does what he likes in the name of his fake therapy abusing any sense of moral obligation normally upheld by a therapist engaged in the privileged area of human sensitivity and trust.

It is interesting to consider how the positions of therapists and patients are being used in the Kenjan organisation. I turn to an assessment of material from an eminent academic in this area. I shall read the contents of the letter, but as is common in this field, people are most concerned about their position in society and the powerful forces that work in our community today that would prove to be destructive to their careers if names were known. This professional and many other professionals who have given me advice on this issue have indicated that they would give evidence before a select committee but would probably want to do so in camera. I shall read some of this advice because it goes to the heart of the control mechanisms used by the organisation:

Dear Mr Mutch,

I have read your letters and the material enclosed with your letters. In response to your request for comment, I make the following points. The comments by individuals about the physical, interpersonal and intrapersonal events that occurred during and after their involvement in the organisation suggest that they experienced psychological trauma associated with these events.

This psychological trauma may have occurred because of the personal characteristics of these individuals, the structural demands of the organisation, or the use of particular techniques by senior members of the organisation. It is most likely that the trauma is a result of the overall constellation of personal characteristics, structural demands, and particular techniques.

In terms of personal characteristics, it appears that some individuals were experiencing unhappiness/instability in their lives, and were attracted to the apparent happiness/stability offered by the organisation. It appears that other individuals experienced a "slide" into the organisation after becoming acquainted with members of the organisation.

In terms of the structural demands, the comments by individuals point to a range of social- psychological processes that are associated with the acceptance and adherence to group norms. These processes include isolation from people outside the group, intimidation by people inside the group, deprivation of normal physical and emotional comfort, and communication of particular attitudes and beliefs by people inside the group. These types of structural demands typically lead to individuals accepting the norms of the group and to the creation of a particular relationship of dependence among senior individuals inside the group.

In terms of the particular techniques, the comments by individuals point to a range of "quasi-religious" and "quasi-clinical" procedures that appear to be designed to allow senior members to exert influence over other members of the organisation. The use of these procedures appears to lead to the creation of a dependency relationship that could not be said to be psychologically healthy. The procedures appear to lead some individuals to believe that they have "lost control" physically and psychologically. The sexual contact reported by some individuals, for example, appears to have occurred during periods when they were experiencing such a sense of the loss of control.

Some individuals have labelled some of these techniques and their own experiences when exposed to these techniques as "hypnosis". This label is probably given because of the particular techniques used by senior members, and because of the experience of loss of control (or nonvolitional) of the individuals themselves. The techniques and experiences described in the comments by individuals are quite different from hypnosis as it occurs in contemporary medical and psychological practice. However, aspects of the techniques reported to be used overlap with some hypnotic techniques (as well as with other psychological procedures), and aspects of the individuals' experiences overlap with some parts of the hypnotic experience (as well as with other psychological experiences). The use of the techniques appears to lead to a reduction in the reality testing by individuals, and a relatively uncritical acceptance of the instructions of the senior member. Moreover, the individuals appear to experience a sense of dissociation that involves an alteration in normal waking consciousness and a feeling of incapacity to respond negatively to undesired actions.

The combination of interpersonal and group processes that are apparent in the comments by individuals suggest the possibility of substantial trauma occurring, either intentionally or unintentionally, in those people who expose themselves to these processes.

Recently a former member of the Kenja organisation came to see me with other people once involved in the cult. The man's name was Michael Beaver, and to me he looked pretty good and was well out of Kenja. I said to his mother that it just seemed all too easy, that although this young man had been through this experience he seemed so well. I should like to read a letter I received from him, and the reason for doing so will become apparent. The letter states:

Dear Mr Mutch,

I was in Kenja for two years, leaving Kenja in late 1990. I was told to leave by Ken Dyers for having contact with people who drink and having contact with people who had been to Bali, living with me.

I was recently diagnosed as schizophrenic and was hospitalised five times during 1992, due to Kenja. I now want to write what I personally think of Kenja.

I think Kenja is a destructive cult which traps people within Kenja. I was told to "cut lines" with my family, because I was told that it was my family, or it was myself. If I did not cut off from my family I would be asked to leave, because my family was drinking, and I lived with my father who used to go to the pub a couple of times a week. It wasn't as if my father got drunk; it was just a way of keeping me isolated from the rest of the community.

I was only paying half price, at Kenja, because I was then seventeen years. But it still cost a lot of money, something like $100 per week. I paid $50 per week for a session, $15 for classes and every month I had a workshop, which was $100. As well, I was doing ballroom dancing and touch football, which made up the $100. Also, I was buying my meals at Kenja. No receipts were ever given. I was recently told that while Ken Dyers claims he makes no monetary gain, he makes between $5000 and $7000 per week. If this is true, it shows he is a liar.

Whilst in Kenja I was encouraged to disassociate myself from my family and friends. Because I had "cut lines" with my family and friends I realised that I had no friends, this was very hard for me when I came out. If I meet Kenja people they will say hello to me but that is all they will say, they won't mix with you. I felt very lonely when I first came out.

Personally, I think Kenja is a trap because the brain-washing techniques used by Kenja brings on a sense of dependency on Kenja and makes one feel as though one has no life outside Kenja.

After being put out from Kenja I suffered many psychological problems and only now am I coming to grips with myself after help from ex-Kenja people. Before meeting these people I could not talk about Kenja, because I was programmed not to talk about it. One of these people was a professional, a meditation consultant, ( M.C.). in Kenja, while I was there. This person had left Kenja on their own accord. This person had my trust, I could listen and ask questions and I began to have my doubts.

I had been told by Ken Dyers that I was a failure and I began to realise that I was not, it was only the programming that had made me think that I was. The programming in Kenja makes one feel that Kenja is your only salvation, if you are made to leave as I was, you feel that you are worthless.

After what I have been through I feel that Kenja is dangerous and I would like to see it closed down.

I am back working after eight months of severe problems. How many more people do we have to see having psychological problems before this destructive cult gets closed down. I have heard of four other people who have had severe problems after leaving Kenja, and I have only been discussing it for six weeks. Who knows how many more people are suffering after being in Kenja?

We need Laws that are strong enough to combat mind control. What right has this unqualified man, Ken Dyers, got to screw people's minds up the way he does. Staring someone in the eye for an hour at a time is dangerous hypnosis, as done in "energy conversion" and which costs an adult $100.

Why do people go along? Because I was under 18, my father had to go along and give the O.K. for me to attend. On the surface it looks fine, he went to an open night and heard a lecture. My father heard about the sporting activities and thought it was all right. But we were not given any details about the "energy conversion" sessions. When I was asked to book in for them, I asked about them and was told, "You'll find out".

It didn't occur to me that it was hypnosis. After the "energy conversion" one feels such a high, that I felt as though I should come back, which shows the trap that Kenja is.

Please feel free to contact me as I would like to see Kenja closed down and I am willing to fight this all the way.

Yours faithfully,

Michael Beaver

The next thing that Michael Beaver apparently wrote is a note that contains the words, "This is now the end for me. I am weak overtaking by spirits. I cant face life any more. Its my right my choice. Kenja is to partly blame as it exposed me to truths". Unfortunately, this young man suicided. One can question what effect Kenja might have had on him, and I have my views about that. On 13th March, 1993, two articles appeared in the local newspaper, the St. George and Sutherland Shire Leader. The first article, under the headline "Committee plans to investigate cults", referred to my notice of motion to inquire into cults. The second article, by Graham Davies, was headed "Psychiatrist's warning on brainwashing techniques". It stated:

People who become involved with sects are putting themselves into serious psychiatric danger, the director of psychiatry at Sutherland Hospital, Dr Nerida Brinkley, warned.

"They go away on weekend rituals where there is much chanting, and return to the city with severe problems," she said.

"Some never recover.

"Some suicide . . . they are brainwashed," she added . . .

She said staff have identified seven distinct categories of problems which result in people needing help from the unit . . .

The switch to sects and the associated problems, was a newcomer to the list of problems that the unit receives.

In fact, Dr Brinkley says that the shire has one of the highest rates of suicide of young people, particularly among young males. There is evidence of increasing cult activity and it would be interesting to see from Coroner's Court statistics whether cult activity has some association with the numbers of suicides that are occurring among young people in our society today. That question may be examined by referring it to something like a select committee, which can call evidence.

Kenja members entrust their money to Ken Dyers and Jan Hamilton. It is clear that the income generated by the participants in Kenja activities has never been fully declared to the taxation department. The resulting profits have probably been the foundation for the personal wealth of Ken Dyers and Jan Hamilton. A letter I have received estimated total Kenja turnover at $800,000 per annum. I believe that is an underestimation and is dated. A further letter describes how there were two sets of books used in order to deceive the taxation department. Many letters mention the strategy of cash payments only and no receipts. The Kenja taxation philosophy is described in one letter in this way: "Tax was something that was paid when you decided how much you were willing to pay".

Former Kenja members have informed me that the Brisbane centre was closed when a tax investigation seemed likely. A great deal of information has been provided to me by way of statutory declarations, signed letters and taped interviews about tax irregularities. This information has been provided to me on the understanding it is under the protection of Parliament. However, if the Commissioner for Taxation is interested, I would like to talk to him. I believe these people were under a form of control and mind influence when they deceived and lied to the taxation office. I have evidence to confirm this from those people in the form of statutory declarations. Because they were under a form of control, I believe it would be reasonable to negotiate with the taxation commissioner about the manner in which they should be treated.

Approximately 200 people belong to the Kenja organisation. They were all required to write one, but mostly two, letters to the honourable member for Bulli - who has forwarded all letters to me. These letters reveal interesting things about the organisation. They tend to reveal that people who join this organisation may have a profession or good job. It does not take very long before they are no longer doing that job, but doing something they consider to be better - running their own business. In general, their business involves cash-producing enterprises - cottage industries, if you like. One of the main businesses is flower selling.

The Hon. Judith Walker: That proposition seems perverse to me.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: It is a good way of raising cash; people can do more processing sessions. The people all seemed to be relieved of their cash. These letters show a similar pattern: the people have been rescued from their psychological problems and dilemmas by Ken Dyers. A lot of people were, in their own eyes, alcoholics and drug addicts, but suddenly, when they met Ken and become involved with processing, they miraculously became tremendous human beings capable of setting up their own business and selling flowers. I raised the matter of the Kenja organisation in Parliament. I am prepared to table these documents which are extremely critical of me.

The Hon. Judith Walker: You do not have to worry, I have copies.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: I would like to table them. Perusal of them will show that many of the authors held high positions in society for a short time. The bundle of documents is a fairly complete set of the letters forwarded to me by Ian McManus. Some of the letters are written by prominent people, and those people should have their day in court as well.

The Hon. Judith Walker: But this is not court. This happens to be Parliament.

he Hon. S. B. MUTCH: I am tabling them for their benefit. Perhaps I could refer to some of the letters that form part of the set of tabled documents. One letter that is highly critical was written by J. C. Walker, who purports to be the Dean of the Faculty of Education, University of Canberra. Many of the letters are written on the letterheads of the institutions that employ the people concerned. Another letter is purported to be written by Anne Cummins, principal of Merici College, Wise Street, Braddon, Australian Capital Territory. Another letter is purported to be from Paul Wright, though it is unsigned. A card attached to the letter states that the author is a photographer employed by the publishers of the Bulletin. The letter has been written on the Bulletin letterhead.

The Hon. Judith Walker: This is disgraceful.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: I think they should be entitled to their say.

The Hon. Judith Walker: This is not a court. It is Parliament.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: They are entitled to put their complaints about me on the public record, and I have no problems with that.

The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: Why are these letters all about you? Why are they all complaining about you?

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: The honourable member can read the letters. There have been hundreds of letters of complaint about me. I have two letters written by Denise Edwards, who apparently is a lecturer in the bioscience unit of the University of Technology, Sydney. Her letters make interesting reading.

The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: Do those letters complain about you too?

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: Yes, all letters I am referring to complain about me. Another letter was written by Robert McDonald, who professes to be Assistant Commissioner, Program Evaluation Branch, Australian Taxation Office, National Headquarters, Canberra. Another letter is from Linda Paisley, who purports also to have been employed for 22 years in the Australian public service, in the tax office in Perth. I wish to place on the record that these letters have been written to me -

The Hon. Judith Walker: Were they written to you or to Mr McManus?

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: They were written to Mr McManus, who referred them to me. It is only fair that I produce these documents as I am the one they are attacking.

The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: What do they say about you?

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: The honourable member should read them. In the interest of technicalities, I seek leave to table the letters I have just referred to.

Leave granted.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: I shall now refer to the connection between Kenja and the Church of Scientology. I am sure honourable members would be aware of the organisation the Church of Scientology, though one barrister I spoke to the other day asked, "What is Scientology?" I suppose we are not all that well-informed. The article I referred to earlier from the Concerned Christian Growth Ministries entitled "Kenja: the Science of Change" noted that Kenja's claim to uniqueness in the Western world is contradicted by its own statements and jargon. The article states at page 17:

Many of Kenja's buzz words are an integral part of the Scientology vocabulary including such terms as, "We have the technology; clear reactive mind thoughts; data; terminals; interbulate; processing; energy centre; reality level; ethics and research; standards and ethics; awareness; consciousness; causative" and more. The late Lafayette Ron Hubbard would not be pleased with Kenneth Dyers and company. He would regard their "technology" for living as definitely NOT "standard" tech.

I will read from a letter from yet another ex-Kenja member whom so far I have not quoted. I could read many more letters to the House. Those who wrote to me were concerned about a number of things. Parents, friends and relatives do not want to go public for fear that the person in Kenja will not want to contact them any more and will close off from them entirely, so that there will be even less contact than there is at present. Another concern relates to public ridicule. Most friends and relatives wish to be available if a person ever gets out of the organisation. This particular ex-Kenja member asked in the letter, as most correspondents have, that the name not be disclosed. I have asked most of these people to advise me if they do not want their names revealed. This letter states:

Please, do not use my name publicly, or give it out to anyone at all.

Also, please do not identify me in any way . . . This is really important to me that you respect this request, and on this understanding, I will sign this letter.

This person said:

One big lie is that Kenja is based on the research of Ken Dyers - over the last 40 years or so.

In fact, it is based almost entirely on Scientology.

Ken Dyers has stated that he was in Scientology and the implication was that he was in it for a number of years.

On the first day that I started work in Kenja as a "professional" we had to go out and buy (from the Scientology bookshop) Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard and 0 - _ [Zero to Infinity] book. Also a copy of the "Tone Scale" and several other scales.

Over the next month, we had to completely read "Dianetics" and the 0 - _ book.

Daily, from then on, we had to read some of the 0 - _ book and at least daily, locate ourselves on the "Tone Scale".

The Scientology material forms the core of Kenja Dyers lectures and seminars, yet they constantly deny that it has anything to do with Scientology (which is true in the literal sense that Kenja is not a branch of Scientology and that they pay money to Scientology. In fact Ken Dyers used to skite about how Scientology had labelled him a "squirrel" and tried to destroy him and Kenja - but, of course, had failed against the mighty powerful and evolved Ken Dyers.

A number of so-called ex-Kenja professionals have given me books in which the name Scientology has been covered up. I have been given huge charts that are supposedly tone scales used by Scientology. They are very detailed charts. Apparently its members have to memorise details from the charts. It is another form of keeping people's brains so preoccupied with detail that they cannot think about anything else. I now seek to put on the record the contents of a letter written by Henry Bartnik entitled "Kenja not Scientology", of the Sydney Church of Scientology. The letter, which appeared in the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader on 14th January, states:

I refer to a recent article on the Kenja group.

If Kenja founder Ken Dyers has "acquired God-like knowledge" or if he has "developed a theory of energy conversion that brings insights into the meaning of life" then it is not Scientology that he is talking about.

Scientology is an applied religious philosophy that is applied by millions of people to help make their lives more orderly and ethical.

There are no new "theories" or knowledge reserved for gods, just basic data that happens to work out in practice.

I would be very concerned if the Kenja group were attempting to apply Scientology principles outside the guidance of our church. I think the group is doing something quite different.

I am trying to be fair to all parties concerned. I have oodles of letters from people who were once involved in the organisation. It seems to me that if one wants to know about the activities of an organisation one only has to speak with former members of the organisation. One letter states:

Dear Mr Mutch,

I read the newspaper articles concerning what you said in parliament regarding Kenja and want to express my support . . .

All of the people I met in Kenja seemed to be quite sincere apart from Ken Dyers and Jan Hamilton. Ken Dyers left me with the impression that he was a rather sleazy con man and Jan Hamilton simply seemed to be crazy.

There is more in that correspondence that confirms the processing and activities that occur within the organisation. Another matter I wanted to refer to was is the article to which I referred earlier that appeared in the Sun-Herald. The article, which was written by Kevin Perkins, states:

Dyers said Kenja was a non-profit organisation, did not take money from people in advance and he was now only a consultant responsible for "ethics and security" with no financial interest.

I thought that was an interesting statement because that sort of claim has been reiterated by people who have come to me with evidence. The fact is that Ken Dyers has had a substantial property portfolio. I have some of the searches here, though this probably does not reflect the totality of the property involved. On 8th June, 1983, Ken Dyers and Jan Hamilton purchased one-quarter shares each in a unit at Rose Bay. Myee Hamilton, Jan's mother, has a half share. The total purchase price was $85,000. Myee Hamilton now owns the property outright. On 24th January, 1984, Ken Dyers bought a unit at Bellevue Hill for $122,500. On 15th April, 1988, Ken Dyers and Jan Hamilton bought a unit within the city of Sydney for $125,000. On 26th May, 1989, Ken Dyers and Jan Hamilton bought a house at Bundeena for $515,000. On 12th June, 1992, Ken Dyers sold a house at 6 Edward Street, Bondi, for $375,000. That is only a fairly cursory examination.

The Hon. Judith Walker: Has the honourable member never bought or sold property?

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: The suggestion is that Kenja is a non-profit organisation, that it does not take money from people in advance, and that Ken Dyers is only a consultant responsible for ethics and security, with no financial interest.

The Hon. Judith Walker: What the honourable member says does not prove anything.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: I have already said on the record that I would like an appointment with the Commissioner of Taxation so that I can speak about the statutory declarations that I also have in my possession about this organisation concerning tax matters. I did wish to refer to a number of other matters relating to Kenja but in the interests of time I will refer now to the notice of motion. I suggest there is enough concern in the community to warrant an investigation generally into activities of cults in New South Wales. Since I gave notice of this motion I have received probably in excess of 150 letters that refer to a small number of organisations. The same theme recurs repetitively in those letters, and that is the theme to which I referred when I spoke about the activities of the Kenja organisation.

There seems to be a common thread throughout the organisations. People in our community are gravely concerned about these issues. I do not wish to name those organisations. The truth is that I have many letters. One of the files I have is full of original letters, handwritten and typed, from citizens of New South Wales. I have received some letters from interstate but the vast majority are from New South Wales. I do not know how some of these concerns can be dealt with by simply referring them to Ministers. This material should be referred to a select committee for proper evaluation, proper examination and determination, to see whether we can do something about these organisations.

The Hon. Judith Walker: Or a proper witch hunt.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: The result could well be that we can do no more than offer a safety net for some people. A number of people who have been involved in cult activities and are suffering from all sorts of mental problems have come to me. They have no money left, because these organisations have deprived them of their income and they have nowhere to turn. I have also received letters from parents, friends and relatives expressing their deep and personal concerns about cult activities in New South Wales. In 1977 the former member for Gordon raised a similar motion in the other place. He was not able to produce any evidence of cult activity, he was not able to say where cult activity might be occurring. The motion was rejected by a majority of one. At that time people did not have a good understanding of how cult organisations worked nor of the power of mind control.

I should also like to refer to what has happened since I placed the notice of motion on the notice paper. I issued a fairly benign report - the Mutch report - in which I said, "Over the past few months I have received a number of representations from parents and friends who have been involved in cult activities". I stated that a major concern was that idealistic, intelligent young people were particularly vulnerable to cult recruitment, probably because they are going through personal transition periods and get sucked in to joining these organisations. I also said:

The problem in Australia is subterranean compared to the United States. This is perhaps because of the reluctance of Australians to speak publicly about problems involving mental health and because of the stricter Australian defamation laws.

In fact, there is evidence that overseas cults see Australia as a safe haven.

The following paragraph of the report is very interesting. It states:

Two courageous people who have taken a stand are concerned parents Tony and Joan McClelland, who established an organisation called CultAware, which has as its objectives: to focus on activities and mental health implications of destructive groups and mind control techniques, to provide information and resources to affected individuals, families and concerned citizens, to raise community awareness and to educate the members of the helping professions.

Arraigned against the efforts of citizens like the McClellands are some powerful organisations with substantial financial resources.

Ursula MacKenzie, editor of the United Kingdom based Family Action Information and Rescue news bulletin, Fair News, wrote:

Cults may once have fitted the image of 'crackpot leaders with a few followers', but now are a force to be reckoned with, powerful organisations who can buy their way into university control, set up political parties and run businesses and management training courses.

The Hon. Judith Walker: That description sounds a little like the profile of the Liberal Party. I could have been easily fooled.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: The problem with the Liberal Party is that it is not as effective at raising funds as other organisations. What has occurred since is quite extraordinary. Honourable members in the upper House have been approached ad nauseam by members of particular organisations who are trying, for some reason, to stop this investigation into, what I would term, destructive cult activity in New South Wales. I cannot understand why people would want to oppose the setting up of a bipartisan parliamentary inquiry which will endeavour to get to the bottom of what is going on in our society.

I have received letters from organisations that seem to have something to fear because they say that Tony and Joan McClelland are associates of criminals. I was introduced to the McClellands by the Hon. Patricia Forsythe, who knows them through Rotary activities. The McClellands are the personification of concerned and genuine parents. Tony McClelland has whiter hair than my father. Their son became involved with a particular cult organisation. The McClellands are country people and they were at pains to find a way of getting further information to their son so that he might learn about what he was really involved in. They were able to get that information to him and, fortunately, he has since left the organisation. I have received letters from Henry Bartnik and the Church of Scientology.

The Hon. Judith Walker: What does he say? Why does the Hon. S. B. Mutch not tell the House what these people are saying? How does the honourable member expect his colleagues to vote for something when he has given us no answers?

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: I dare say the Hon. Judith Walker has received half of these letters. One letter from Mr Bartnik states:

My name is Henry Bartnik.

I am the public spokesman for the Church of Scientology in Sydney. My post title is "Public Relations Officer"

The immediate subject of my visit is a motion that is being forwarded by MLC Stephen Mutch, to curb "destructive cults". While Mr Mutch has not named the Church of Scientology I am concerned about the emotiveness and encompassing nature of his subject matter.

The Hon. Judith Walker: So am I.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: The Hon. Judith Walker should try to get herself on the committee.

The Hon. Judith Walker: I will. At least I would have an open mind about these matters. I could not say the same for the Hon. S. B. Mutch.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: The letter continued:

There is also a broader issue which relates to the US deprogrammers in Australia who are creating a market for deprogramming.

Thank you for giving me time to speak to you.

All sorts of letters have been distributed around the streets near where the McClellands live. I have a letter from the secretary of the Better Family Relations Association regarding the formation of a religious vilification group called CultAware. It is extraordinary that resource information of CultAware - which has issued a pamphlet I recommend to all honourable members about disseminating information to health professionals and people in the community who are experiencing problems with cults - should be read by members of the upper House.

The Hon. Judith Walker: CultAware is a well-known American organisation.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: Had the Hon. Judith Walker been in the Chamber when I commenced my speech, she would have heard me talk about -

The Hon. Judith Walker: I heard the Hon. S. B. Mutch.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: I read on to the record an article which I invite the honourable member to read.

The Hon. Judith Walker: I know, and I will.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: It refers to parents and friends of people in cult activities who are concerned and do not know what to do. In the past people hired Rambo types to drag people away from these cults. Sometimes such action worked and sometimes it did not. If it did not work, often the parents and friends were accused of kidnapping. Since those days a lot has been learned about mind control and mind-influencing processes. I am informed that the types of activities engaged in by intervention counsellors now are basically to try to get the cult member to accept voluntarily further information about the cults to which the member happens to belong. The vehemence of the attack launched against this family from the country who sought to get their son out of this organisation is extraordinary. They provided their son with this information about the organisation which led the son, of his own volition, to make a decision to leave the cult.

The Hon. Judith Walker: How old was the son?

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: I cannot recall how old the son was.

The Hon. Judith Walker: His age is in the letter, by the way.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: To what letter is the Hon. Judith Walker referring?

The Hon. Judith Walker: The letter from his parents.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: The Hon. Judith Walker should tell me. How old was the son?

The Hon. Judith Walker: He was in his twenties and he was in the United States at the time.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: The Hon. Judith Walker should talk to the son about what he thought of the process.

The Hon. Judith Walker: I would, if I could afford it.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: I think the Hon. Judith Walker should speak to the son. A stand needs to be made against those who prey on the vulnerable to manipulate their consciousness and grow rich at the expense of the people they manipulate. It is not good enough to equate the right of religious freedom with the right to exploit in these ways and say, "Caveat emptor". It is not good enough to claim that there is not enough evidence of these practices and that there has never been a specific mechanism to deal with these problems.

I suspect that the letters I have received are the tip of the iceberg. We have to create an opportunity for people to come forward with information. We need to classify what has been done in the area of civil and criminal law. We need to seek advice from various authorities and determine how those areas can be linked. We need to review the laws that are relevant to these cases to see how effective they are. We need to know to what extent those laws are being enforced. We have to think about the walking wounded emerging from cults and we have to determine what can be done about their specific problems. We have to consider the likely cost to the State, as well as individuals, of doing nothing. The damage that cults cause to individuals could be summarised in these three concepts: deception, coercion and exploitation. We need to examine the New South Wales Fair Trading Act 1987, which contains sections concerning fair trading which mirror those concepts. For example, section 42, which deals with misleading or deceptive conduct, states:

A person shall not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive.

Section 43, which deals with unconscionable conduct, can be summarised as having these features: the relative strengths of the bargaining positions of the parties; any requirement to comply with unnecessary conditions; the degree of understanding of documents; undue influence, pressure, unfair tactics; and the availability of and comparison with like goods. All these features could be brought to bear on the exploitative relationships that exist between individuals and cults. A select committee, as part of its brief, could seek advice as to how the New South Wales Department of Consumer Affairs could run a test case to establish the use of these sections against cult exploiters on behalf of injured parties. This could go a long way towards sending a signal to these organisations that their mischievous use of psychological practices and other activities, including their enrichment by deception, will not be so easily tolerated in the future.

If we set up a select committee it could focus on how members are deceived into joining cults; look at the flimsy, contractual ways in which individuals are persuaded to part with their money; look at the deceptive claims made by cults in their publicity; calculate the hours of unpaid labour by cult members as a condition of their membership; look at the deceptive and unconscionable psychological practices used by cults, including sexual exploitation; and calculate the financial losses suffered by cult members. When Tim Moore sought to establish a select committee to investigate the Children of God in 1977, the then member for Gosford, Mr McGowan, argued that he had not raised a sufficient case. He said:

He failed to establish a need for a select committee to investigate the matters he has raised. I expected that he would provide us with cases of police intervention with the Children of God, of arrests, convictions or cases of fraud and kidnapping, but he has provided no such objective evidence.


Opposition members should remember that this matter is part heard. I have many more letters.

The Hon. Judith Walker: And just remember that they are children. You are referring to them as though they were adults.

The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: That is not true. I have many more letters that need to be examined, and I suggest that a select committee is the place for that to be done. As I continue my speech I will provide further details. That mindset of requiring absolute proof before action was taken overlooked the point that prevention is better than cure. It is like saying to a patient with chest pains, "We cannot treat you until you have a heart attack". It also overlooked the fact that the price to be paid for a select committee inquiry would be far outweighed by the cost to individuals whose lives have been and are being seriously affected by the Children of God. It overlooked the fact that, fifteen years later, the Department of Community Services, both in this State and in Victoria, tried to pick up the pieces at considerable expense. A voice of reason in that original debate - it is good that I can refer to Mr John Hatton in this way - said:

I do not argue the matter from a religious point of view but rather from a logical one. As parliamentarians we should become involved in a matter about which a section of the community has expressed concern. At this time I have not made a judgment about the matter.

If gambling casinos and the use of drugs are investigated because, by observation, honourable members are convinced individually that when one has regard to the possible effect on society those subjects are worth looking at, then the matter now before the House is also worth looking at. A committee should be established to look at the Children of God. Are we afraid of leaning something?

The question before us is whether we are now going to learn from experience and set up the select committee into cults that I propose, or whether we are going to make the same mistake that was made in 1977 and wait till these issues boil over into a crises which will end up costing us more in terms of the shattered personal lives of our citizens and the consequent drain on this State's expenditures. I refer now to a letter written to me by a young person who was involved in the Kenja organisation. I thought this statement was a fairly pithy and succinct reflection of concerns:

This is serious. It is my opinion that people who occupy positions of power in Kenja think that because they may fill a need for those who feel vulnerable at some stage in their lives - a need to have support and feel like they are making changes, they can charge whatever price they like. But when the price goes beyond dollars, when you are given a ready-made, elite, isolated reality, that is when the price of your own thoughts, your friends, your ability to make decisions, and your private past costs too much. Kenja just doesn't cost dollars, it costs freedom - the freedom to be an individual and the freedom to have space in your brain to think.

I wish to raise a few other matters that have been referred to me in a number of letters that I have received. It is interesting to note that the Church of Christ has been banned from the campus of the Queensland University. In a recent report of the cult's activities in the Australian the Chaplain of the Queensland Council of Churches, Reverend Cyril Muller, said that students had been "psychologically twisted" by the church's manipulative methods. The report goes on to state:

Mr Muller said the church's doctrine required members to seek new disciples. Members were told they were sinners if they failed to attract their quota of recruits. Complaints by students of continual harassment by church members on campus prompted the university registrar, Mr Douglas Porter, to withdraw campus meeting facilities and issue a stern warning to members. The Church of Christ was banned from the Queensland University of Technology last September after similar complaints.

In Sydney, the Anglican Chaplain of the University of Sydney, Reverend Robert Forsyth, was more sanguine about the Church of Christ. When interviewed for the 13th April issue of Campus News, he said that he was not aware of Church of Christ members harassing students. He said that their most common activity was simply walking around the campus asking students to come to Bible meetings. Perhaps Reverend Forsyth should speak to Reverend Muller and compare notes. A letter I received from a student at the University of New South Wales alleges a great deal of harassment. The writer states that she has lodged formal letters of complaint with the University of New South Wales. She goes on to say:

As a young person walking alone around campus and the city of Sydney, I am constantly having to fend off members of various churches including the Sydney Church of Christ, the Church of Scientology, Campus Bible Study and the Uni Church.

I very much resent having to fend these people off. I feel set upon. I feel that it is an invasion of my right to freely move around campus. I have tried everything to rid myself of this persistent harassment, from being very polite through to being incredibly rude and nothing works.

The Sydney Church of Christ is a cult which seeks to entrap vulnerable young people and indoctrinate them. It does this through a technique called `shepherding' - that is, providing young people with a `disciple' or `big brother'.

Another cult that has been of interest to me, one that I have never heard of before, is Sahaja Yoga. I have actually received a number of letters detailing the practices and effects of cults in general. A number of letters that I have received refer to the organisation operating in New South Wales known as Sahaja Yoga. One writer states:

I am very concerned regarding the deceitful methods sometimes used by these cults and would certainly be in favour of anything which can responsibly be done to avert the heartache which is caused to the families who stand helplessly by, watching their loved ones (especially little children) trapped in a seemingly `brainwashed' situation. I am thinking particularly of friends of mine whose son and daughter in law, being members of the Sahaja Yoga cult, are considering sending their two small children (aged 5 and 7) over to India, unaccompanied by their parents, to live in a commune.

I also witnessed the heartache caused when two relatives of mine were involved with the Orange cult of Bagwan Rajneesh when one of them was trying to smuggle her little boy to India against the wishes of the husband, who was not in the cult. I wish you every success in the passing of the motion to form a committee to look into these matters.

The second letter I refer to also claims that children are being sent to a boarding school in India at a very early age. The writer of a third letter says:

As parents of a member of the Sahaja Yoga cult we heartily support your desire that a parliamentary select committee be set up to inquire into ways of combating and exposing cult activities.

They said their daughter has joined the cult and now lives in India. The letter continues:

She has virtually cut herself off from other members of the family.

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