The sect’s schools have secured more than $8.4m under the Government’s school building stimulus package and they will share in $62m in recurrent taxpayer funding.
Documents show a Brethren-run school at Swan Hill in northern Victoria was granted $1.2m for a library and $800,000 for a hall when its most recent annual report shows it had just 16 pupils and already had a library.
Grants data released by the commonwealth shows that Brethren schools in every state received funding under the $12.4 billion schools stimulus package.
Australian Education Union federal president Angelo Gavrielatos said these sums were outrageous and the funding system had to be urgently replaced.
“How can the Government justify handing tens of millions of dollars to an organisation it believes is a cult while public schools which educate the vast majority of our children are struggling for funds?” Mr Gavrielatos said.
Based on more than two years of research, this comprehensive study uncovers the lesser-known facts behind one of history’s most enigmatic and influential Christian sects.
Documenting their emergence onto the Australian political stage in 2004, this investigation shows how the Exclusive Brethren made their presence known through enormous contributions to conservative campaigns, assiduously lobbying politicians and maintaining a close relationship with the prime minister—all without casting a vote themselves.
This examination delves deeper into the group’s past, revealing the Brethren’s 19th-century origins in the United Kingdom, their fractious history, their extraordinary use of scripture to control members and dissidents, and their lucrative business and financial arrangements.
Numerous questions are explored, such as What exactly was their interest in politics? Why did their activism suddenly blossom almost simultaneously across the world? and How did a group whose values are detached from those of most Australians infiltrate the highest office in the land?
A fascinating tale of power exercised across several continents, this is also a moving story of damaged lives, broken families, and anger that stretches back decades.