Senator to speak at Brisbane anti-cult conference

ABC News, Australia/March 12, 2010

Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon will address a conference in Brisbane which claims to be the first specifically organised to help people who have left cults.

Senator Xenophon has been campaigning for an inquiry into the Church of Scientology and its tax exempt status.

In a speech in Parliament late last year he raised allegations of false imprisonment, coerced abortions and embezzlement of church funds, of physical violence and intimidation, blackmail and the widespread and deliberate abuse of information.

The Cult Information and Family Support Group Queensland's two-day conference starts in Brisbane today.

It will hear from American experts, and Senator Nick Xenophon will speak at the conference tomorrow.

The support group's spokeswoman Helen Pomery says former members of cults tend to suffer in silence.

"There are far more than we know about here in Australia," she said.

"Although we know that cults exist and we perhaps hear about a lot of the extreme ones from America they're certainly here in our midst in Australia."

She says workshops at the conference will allow them to connect with each other.

"Many of these people have never had any treatment before," Ms Pomery said.

"They've gone away, they've resumed their lives, they've shelved a lot of the issues, and this is the first time they really have a chance to start to process the pain that they've suppressed within themselves."

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