A powerful work of investigative journalism that reveals the legacy of a notorious cult.
The apocalyptic group The Family and their guru, Anne Hamilton-Byrne, captured international headlines throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Hamilton-Byrne, who some followers believed was Jesus Christ, was glamorous and charismatic " and, many allege, very dangerous. She acquired children and raised them as her own, bleaching their hair blonde to make them look like siblings. The group, which grew out of Anne's yoga classes in the heady days of the countercultural movement, became surrounded by rumours of LSD use, child abuse, and strange spiritual rituals.
In 1987, police swooped on The Family's lakeside compound and rescued children who claimed they were part of Anne's future master race, recounting terrible stories of near starvation, emotional manipulation, and physical abuse. But Anne could not be found, sparking an international police hunt. Could they bring Anne to justice?
How did such a notorious group come to flourish? How did Anne maintain a hold over her followers? The Family tells the strange and shocking story of one of the most bizarre cults in modern history.
Chris Johnston is a senior writer for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, based in Melbourne. He has been covering developments related to The Family for several years.
Rosie Jones is an awardwinning screenwriter, director, and editor. Her most recent feature documentary, The Family, premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival in July 2016.
Authors: Chris Johnston and Rosie Jones