Storyville TV - BBC online - Cult of the Family TV -
Melbourne 1963: Yoga teacher Anne Hamilton-Byrne and physicist Dr Raynor Johnson found a Sect called The Family. Their motto: Unseen, Unheard, Unknown. Storyville: The Cult That Stole Children – Inside the Family, BBC 2016
‘I’m looking right at each one of you. You are the initiate. You are the cosmic being. You’re staring into the awakening. This is the moment of rebirth upon a new planet. We’ve received a call and great things will be done.’ ibid. Anne
Anne Hamilton-Byrne is overseas during the raid. ibid.
Doctor used sect members in LSD tests: A psychiatrist serving on Victoria’s Mental Health Review Board is a former member of the religious sect, The Family. ibid.
‘They’ve lost their money, they’ve lost their properties, they’ve lost their minds.’ ibid.
The Director of Public Prosecutions issues an extradition warrant. ibid.
For twelve months, Anne and Bill use their legal team to fight the charges and avoid testifying at trial. ibid.
Australian cult leader Anne Hamilton-Byrne has died in Melbourne at the age of 98.
Her cult, The Family, was accused of imprisoning and brainwashing children in the 1970s and 80s.
Hamilton-Byrne thought she was a reincarnation of Jesus Christ and blended drug-taking with mysticism and Christianity.
For most of the accusations against her, she never faced trial and suffered from dementia in her later years.
Originally a yoga teacher, she founded the cult in the late 1960s; it operated for more than 20 years, until police raided its property in the state of Victoria in 1987.
She and her husband Bill Byrne took children through adoptions, allowing the cult to assemble and imprison them in a strict home-schooling environment at a rural property near Eildon in Victoria.
Allegedly administering drugs to the minors, the cult was also accused of subjecting them to beatings, starvation and brainwashing.
The children wore identical clothes and had their hair dyed blond; they were told that one day they would take over the world.
‘Growing up, it was Anne and Bill, they were mum and dad; and then there were foster kids, and they were kids of other sect members, who would either come up on weekends or stay there for stints of a couple of years,’ Ben Shenton, a former Eidon child, told the Storyville programme.
‘The greatest amount of kids at any given stage was 28,’ he added.
‘We all had blonded bleached hair – not all of us, some had red hair, because Auntie Anne [Anne Hamilton-Byrne] was actually naturally red-headed,’ Roland Whitaker, who also spent time at Eildon as a child, told Storyville.
He describes what the children were made to wear.
‘Very royal, Von Trapp [characters in The Sound of Music] sort of clothes, your velvets, your smart shoes; everything had to be polished and looking the same – and that was really to implant in us that we’re all brothers and sisters.’
Police began investigating the cult in the late 1980s and broke up the group, freeing the children.
Hamilton-Byrne was only ever convicted of fraud, having to pay A$5,000 ($3,450; £2.700) in fines.
She died in a nursing home in Melbourne.
Former Victoria police detective Lex de Man, who investigated Hamilton-Byrne at the time, said he ‘shed not one tear today’, according to the Australia’s The Age.
‘Today for me brings to an end the life of one of Victoria’s most evil people,’ he said, adding he still regretted she never faced justice on more allegations. BBC online article 14th June 2019, ‘The Family leader Anne Hamilton-Byre Dies’
We’d be disciplined by her and by Bill. The Cult of the Family I, victim, Sky Crime 2020
Police and Community Services raid 14 August 1987 6 am: ‘At the weekend six children were seized from a property owned by the Sect.’ ibid. television news
Four months later the rescued children are in protective care. No charges have been laid. ibid. caption
The sect leader who fled child and LSD scandals. ibid. newspaper article
This is the moment of re-birth for a new planet. ibid. Anne Hamilton-Byrne
The Family investigation: Task force Operation Forest commences 11 December 1989: ‘We had folders, we had my report, we had a phone book and I think we had one car allocated: that was the total resourcing for Operation Forest. ibid. detective Lex le Man
Together Raynor and Anne founded the Great White Brotherhood, which became known as The Family. Anne took the role of spiritual leader. ibid. caption
There was a glamour about Anne that meant all the men were besotted. ibid. Family member
She taught this mishmash of eastern religions. ibid.
They starved us, they beat us, they did all sorts of horrible things to us. ibid.
Children in The Family were given their first ‘clearing’ when they turned 14. It was part of their initiation into the Sect. ibid. caption
Auntie Anne sucked as much money out of people as she possibly could. Anyone who joined The Family had to pay dues. The Cult of the Family II, sect child
They [Hamiltons] are able to create a stable environment with a lot of love. ibid. Sect member and psychiatrists
She was becoming more clinical, more cold, it was about Anne and no-one else. ibid. rozzer
One thing she [Anne] wanted was lots of little children. ibid. sect child
I was just handed over [at birth]: I’m sure my mother was coerced [adoption]. ibid.
There were allegations of rampant drug use and harsh discipline. ibid. rozzer
Other members include general practitioners Dr Christine Fleming and Dr John McCane. ibid. television news
Too much time had elapsed for Operation Forest to obtain physical evidence of the administration of LSD. They were not able to lay charges. ibid. caption
The wheels of justice were just too slow. ibid. investigative journalist
At the weekend six children were seized on a property owned by the Sect under care applications. The Cult of the Family III
Peter [Kibby] was the key to the door: he broke the Code of Silence within that sect. ibid. Lex le Man
Lex is appointed as senior investigator under the supervision of an Inspector. He is given 12 months to close the case. ibid. caption
‘I look at the effect of that power and I have to say it is demonic.’ ibid. victim
The only remaining charge is one count of conspiracy to commit perjury. The Hamilton-Byrnes plead guilty. ibid. caption
After all that work, the system had let us down. ibid. Lex le Man