The cult of

The Family

A three-part investigation into the rise and fallout of Australia’s most notorious cult.

As screened on ABC TV and iview

Nominated AACTA AWARD for Best editing in a documentary
Nominated AACTA AWARD for Best original score in a documentary

Anne Hamilton-Byrne was beautiful, charismatic and delusional. She was also incredibly dangerous and, many allege, a psychopath. Convinced she was a living god, Hamilton-Byrne headed an apocalyptic sect called The Family which was prominent in Melbourne, Australia from the 1960s to the 1990s. With her husband Bill, she acquired numerous children – some through adoption scams, some born to cult members – and raised them as her own.

Isolated from the outside world, the children were dressed in matching outfits, had dyed blonde hair and were beaten, starved and dosed with LSD. Taught that Hamilton-Byrne was both their mother and the Messiah, the children were eventually rescued during a police raid in 1987.

With survivors and former cult members telling their stories alongside the Australian detectives and the investigative journalist who worked the case, this confronting three-part TV series exposes not just The Family but also the conservative community that allowed it to flourish.

Featuring testimony from cult survivors, their relatives and those who are only now prepared to speak on the record, The Cult of The Family probes the psychology of love and loyalty, power and betrayal, justice and truth to address the question – how did she get away with it?


To read a detailed synopsis of each episode …

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Isolated from the outside world, the children were dressed in matching outfits, had their hair dyed blonde, and were beaten, starved and dosed with LSD.

To read a detailed timeline of events …

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