Harm and Abuse:
Cults have major impact on individuals and communities
Dunkeld resident Peter Flinn is warning locals of the impacts that cults can have on individuals and society.
He is the Cult Information and Family Support group president and said that cults and their practices were an increasing concern among politicians, lawyers, health professionals and the general public.
"There are at least 3000 cult groups, small and large, operating within Australia" Mr Flinn said.
"People are recruited into organisations because they seem to offer a better world, but by the time they realise 'it was too good to be true', it's too late, and it is much harder to leave the group than to join.
"This is too true of people born into a cult and who grow up knowing nothing else.
"If they decide to leave, they lose everything - spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends - and often homes and businesses as well."
The term 'cult' has varied definitions but one of the most accepted definitions is that a cult is a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
This is often a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or as imposing excessive control over members.
It can also include a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular thing.
"Freedom of religion is a fundamental right in a democratic society and it cannot be used to justify abuse or threatening behaviour, whether physical, mental, financial or using family relationships as a weapon", Mr Flinn said.
"Sadly this abuse is too frequent and it has to stop."
The Cult Information and Family Support Group began in Sydney in 1996 Brisbane and Queensland in 2007, and in Victoria this year.
It was formed by parents and family members of loved ones caught up in abusive groups.
They will hold a conference in Parliament House in Canberra on November 2 to warn of the serious harm caused by cults.
Cults in Australia: Facing the realities will feature speakers from France and the United Kingdom who will outline how cult-related issues are handled internationally, and high profile Australians with experience in public policy and legal issues, mental health and counselling.
People wanting more information about cults or those requiring assistance can go to www.cifs.org.au
Disclaimer:This news page is about groups, organizations or movements, which may have been called "cults" and/or "cult-like" in some way, shape or form. But not all groups called either "cults" or "cult-like" are harmful. Instead, they may be benign and generally defined as simply people intensely devoted to a person, place or thing. Therefore, the discussion or mention of a group, organization or person on this page, is not necessarily meant pejoratively. Readers are encouraged to read widely on a topic before forming an opinion. Never accept information from a single source at face value. This website only holds a small amount of information and should not be relied on as a complete source. For example, if you find older information, this should be weighed up against newer information as circumstances can change.