Defence sends staff on 'cult' courses

The Australian/April 2, 2008

The Department of Defence has spent thousands of dollars on professional development courses run by an organisation listed in France as a possible cult.

At least $12,000 has been spent by the department on Landmark Education courses, which are run in 22 countries.

Landmark Education says hundreds of government agencies globally use the courses.

When asked if the organisation was a cult, a US-based spokeswoman said it was "absolutely not the case".

"What happened in France was that a commission established by the French parliament issued a report in which they listed almost 200 organisations as being possible cults ... We were never contacted. We were inappropriately included in that list," she said on ABC radio.

Defence Minister Warren Snowdon said the Government was reviewing career development spending by defence.

"Career development and training, we believe is an extremely important part of working with defence personnel," Mr Snowdon said on ABC radio.

"We're in the process now of doing an audit, completely unrelated with anything to do with Landmark, which is being undertaken into learning and development to make sure that they meet our needs.

"We have to be very sure that the courses that people do undertake are relevant, appropriate and indeed in line with what community expectations might be."

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