Workshop host linked to cult to continue
THE Gold Coast City Council says it will allow a behaviour specialist linked to a "socially harmful cult" to continue running workshops, despite the cult being banned by the NSW Government and other shire councils.
The Bulletin this month revealed Tanya Curtis, a promoter of the Universal Medicine cult and director of Fabic Behavioural Specialist, was hosting monthly talks as part of the council-sponsored Active and Health Program.
A NSW Supreme Court civil jury last year found Universal Medicine to be a "socially harmful cult" which actively preyed on the vulnerable.
The civil jury also found that the cult's leader, retired tennis coach Serge Benhayon, instructed students at Universal Medicine training workshops to touch the genitals of victims of sexual assault, had an indecent interest in young girls as young as 10, engaged in inappropriate conduct towards women and vilified people with disabilities.
The jury also fond Universal medicine engaged in misleading conduct in promoting the healing services it offers, preyed on cancer patients and made false claims about healing which caused harm.
Mr Benhayon, who describes himself as a reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci and a seer, features heavily in Ms Curtis's published works and on her clinic's website.
Ms Curtis also sells Mr Benhayon's books on esoteric teachings in her Coast clinic and has featured in Universal Medicine Videos.
Last week, Ms Curtis returned from a UM retreat.
She has not responded to Bulletin questions.
Despite the court findings, Universal Medicine connections and saying they would investigate public complaints about Ms Curtis's links to the cult, the council yesterday said her free GCCC council program would continue.
"The City regularly assesses various services and providers of the Active and Healthy program each financial year," a council spokesman said.
"The City has reviewed feedback on these workshops and the current Active and Healthy program will continue as scheduled."
In November 2018, the NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard directed NSW Health to ensure Universal Medicine, or individuals associated with the group, did not have association with any of its programs.
In the same month, Ballina Shire councillor Keith Williams moved a motion to cancel the cult's local government programs following the Supreme Court civil case.
"Universal Medicine was running an event called Girls to Women which was particularly concerning given the findings of the Supreme Court about the leader's indecent interest in young girls," Mr Williams told the Bulletin yesterday.
"Because of the link between organisers and Universal Medicine the council sought legal advice on the best way forward."
Council amended policies to give staff discretion to refuse bookings if there was a concern about child safety.
"My view is it is a sneaky structure and the events are almost never branded with Universal Medicine, and there is concern there is recruiting at public events.
"Any community in which this group is operating needs to be concerned and aware of the context of their teachings."
Federal Labor candidates have also called for an inquiry into Universal Medicine's connections to government programs.
Former Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell, one of 200 people to attend talks on the dangers of the cult in Lismore this week, yesterday said the group operated an esoteric breast massage program in Lismore for women with breast cancer.
"I am certainly opposed to UM, and their preying on vulnerable people including women with cancer and their attitude to wards disability."
"It was not our position to interfere at that time but since the court case we know a lot more.
"People have the ability to learn about the organisation and the risks."