“Communication is the fabric of all relationships,” says Kenja Communication. It’s the first thing you’ll read on their website, stating communication is the key to further understanding, awareness of spiritual essence and an enhanced quality of life.
Further down the page, however, you’ll find their response to the National Redress Scheme.
“As an organisation committed to the well-being, safety and personal growth of people, including children, we oppose all human degradation including sexual abuse. We empathise profoundly with all victims of sexual abuse.”
“Kenja rejects any claim that sexual abuse of children has ever taken place at this organisation.”
“While acknowledging the vital imperatives behind the National Redress Scheme, we do not consider it appropriate that we join in circumstances where genuine claims against us do not exist.”
“Accordingly, Kenja will not be cajoled or threatened into joining the Scheme.”
Kenja Communication refuses to address victims of sexual abuse within the “sect”. The group refuses to believe anyone was sexually harassed, groomed or assaulted within the sect. This is all in spite of the fact the group’s leader, Kenneth Dyers, faced several allegations of sexual assault and abuse.
He committed suicide after he was accused of abusing a 12-year-old girl.
The group claimed the allegations were false as there were “disputes with 2 families who were embroiled in conflict with our organisation leading to animosity and a desire for revenge. Allegations of sexual abuse that were levelled against Mr Dyers were false, malicious and motivated by hostility and conflict.”
Because Kenja Communication refuses to acknowledge the allegations, former members will not be eligible for payments through the National Redress Scheme.
Kenja Communication is the only remaining organisation that refuses to join the National Redress Scheme. In this article, we explore its practices and history, as well as the allegations against the group.
What is Kenja Communication?
In 1982, Janice Hamilton and Kenneth Dyers founded Kenja Communication (an amalgamation of their names). It is a spiritual self-help group located in Sydney, although they have locations in Melbourne and Canberra.
Kenja Communication claims to help people develop an understanding of the spiritual nature of man and the human spirit, as well as provide practical training in the basics of communication (i.e. time, space and energy).
The group explores these concepts through “energy conversion therapy”, “Kenja Klowning” and the development of personal ethics.
Energy conversion therapy was developed by Dyers. It is conducted by a mediation consultant who acts as a “spiritual stable point” and helps members become aware of the energy, thought and consideration holding them back from their true potential.
This is often conducted one-on-one. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, energy conversion sessions allegedly involved nude one-on-one sessions, occasionally with women and children.
Hamilton developed “Kenja Klowning” in line with Dyer’s energy conversion therapy. Through the exercise of laughter and humour, members are encouraged to locate and let go of self-destructive behaviours, reverting to a simple childlike viewpoint that radiates a genuine enthusiasm for life.
While these practices sound innocent enough, the onslaught of allegations against Dyers tells another story.
“We’re playing a clean game, the cleanest game that’s being played here in Australia – why do I have to defend myself for that?”
Image: Daily Telegraph
In 2007, film director Melissa McLean made a documentary about Kenja Communication called Beyond our Ken. The film was an interview with Dyers and Hamilton. According to the ABC, Melissa was halfway through her first question with Dyers when he became aggressive.
“Why don’t you have that viewpoint as well and do something worthwhile with your thing, instead of asking me to defend myself and defend myself?” he allegedly said.
“Defend Kenja, well we’re playing a clean game, the cleanest game that’s being played here in Australia and why do I have to defend myself for that? I don’t and I’m not going to.”
Within seconds, he took to defending Kenja Communication when it was supposed to be a promotional documentary for the organisation. Around this time, he was facing 22 counts of sexual assault involving both women and children.
“I was still under that spell and he’d just taken me right back to where he had me”
Image: Sydney Morning Herald
In March 2021, 50-year-old survivor Michelle Ring broke her 35-year silence about her experience with Kenja Communication.
She suffered a mental breakdown following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – an understandable reaction to the onslaught of information presented at the time.
The breakdown gave Michelle the courage to come forward and speak out.
Michelle joined Kenja Communication in 1986. She was just 15-years-old when she moved into a townhouse owned by the organisation in Canberra’s Argyle Square.
Dyers promised he would heal her sore back. This progressed to psychic healing, where he badgered her to remember a negative sexual experience from her past. He made her reenact the experience to help her “clear it”.
“I would cry as quickly as I could because I was supposed to show emotion, but then it was like, ‘OK that was one level we needed to clear you on. We have many levels.’ It was abundant,” Michelle said.
Sometimes, Dyers would involve a younger girl known only as Grace in the sessions. Other members called Grace Dyer’s “muse”.
“He would put Grace and I together and make us do things to each other, which we did so we could get out of there.”
Michelle escaped Kenja Communication when she was 21-years-old. It wasn’t long before Dyers and Hamilton were out looking for her. In 1996, Michelle was asked to give evidence for Dyers in court. He was on trial in Sydney for the assault of Michelle’s former roommate and three other girls.
She was given evidence and testimonies to practice by Kenja Communication. She was told to tell the court Dyers never processed children without a chaperone and his door was always open.
Michelle said she was still under Dyers’ spell and went on to betray her friend in court.
“I remember her looking at me so evilly because she knew I was defending Ken. I was still under that spell and he’d just taken me right back to where he had me.”
“I let her down. She had to go through a lot to talk to the police, she had to go through a lot to take [Dyers] on, and the very least I could have done was be her friend that day.”
He was found not guilty on three counts of sexual assault but was found guilty of indecent assault in 1999. This, too, was overturned on appeal.
Survivor says Dyers is “not a hero, he’s a paedophile”
Image: Sydney Morning Herald
Milana Milos, now 41-years-old, joined Kenja Communication with her single mother when she was 11-years-old. From 1989 onwards, Milana was coaxed into a friendship with Grace, Dyers’ alleged muse (note: this is not her real name).
“She was Ken’s muse. He would parade her on stage as a person who does workshopping with him… and how those sessions were benefiting everyone else,” Milana said.
On one occasion, Milana and Grace were invited to Dyers’ and Hamilton’s home in Bundeena. Milana said they spent the weekend repotting plants and helping in the garden until Dyers invited the young girls into his bedroom for a “processing session”.
Grace and Dyers removed their clothes. Milana said Dyers told her they weren’t having sex, but Milana said she could see their body parts going into each other.
Milana and Grace didn’t talk about what happened on the train ride home, but Dyers was quick to ask Milana back for another “processing session” and this time, she was asked to participate.
Milana didn’t want to tell her mother about what was happening to her and why she wanted to leave Kenja Communication. Instead, she started acting out at school.
In 1991, Malina attended the funeral of two close family members who died in a house fire. Dyers said he would need to complete another “processing session” straight after the funeral.
In 1992, Malina left the organisation to escape Ken’s ongoing abuse. She also left home and didn’t reconcile with her mother for many years, nor did she ever tell her mother about the abuse.
“After all these years they still put him on a pedestal,” Milana said.
“It’s time for Kenja to acknowledge and take responsibility for the lives of the young girls that Ken Dyers ruined when he sexually abused them repeatedly over many years during their time within the organisation.”
“He’s not a hero, he’s a paedophile.”
Hamilton claims she has never heard anything about these allegations and believes Kenja Communication has not caused any harm.
Survivor turned her back on her family for Kenja Communication
At the age of 39, Annette Stephens had just come out of a failed marriage when her friend asked her to go with her to a self-development workshop with Kenja Communication.
“Lee was gorgeous, confident and had a great job. She seemed to have everything ‘together’ – unlike me,” Annette said.
“I went through periods of crying every night and was convinced I was the world’s worst mother. I hoped the workshop might help me be a better parent to my children, Nina, 16, and Stefan, 14.”
Annette attended a Kenja Klowning session where everyone wore clown suits to symbolise their vulnerable side. By releasing their inner clowns, members were supposedly able to find out what was stopping them from being the person they wanted to be.
Annette said she thought the concept was beautiful.
Over the rest of the weekend, various speeches and workshops took place. The organisation convinced her she was a failure and had a destructive identity. She was hugged one by one by each of the members and made to feel safe.
She signed up for a 12-month course which would qualify her to work with Kenja Communication.
“I thought it was my ticket out of primary school teaching. I never suspected it would cause me any harm. Dangerous groups, such as bikie gangs, are identifiable in some way, and I never questioned Kenja’s psychological techniques,” Annette said.
The monthly seminars involved energy conversion sessions where Annette would sit opposite another member and stare into their eyes for over an hour. The goal was to relive painful experiences so members could leave them behind and live a richer, fuller life.
When Annette was processed, she said her mind would go blank and she would wake up crying or gasping for air. Dyers told her it was because of the dishonesty and lies around her, which she believed.
Annette ended up quitting her job as a teacher and travelling between Sydney and Melbourne to work for Kenja Communication. As a single mother, it was a huge financial commitment – but she was also committed to the organisation.
Eventually, Annette sold her house and her car so she could move to Sydney. Her son Stefan went to live with his father and her daughter Nina moved between friends’ houses.
“I blocked out any guilt by telling myself I was doing this to benefit them,” she said.
“I wanted Nina and Stefan to join Kenja, but they refused. They were enormously hurt by the fact I’d left, but had the sense to stay away. They knew Kenja had caused them so much pain.”
For the next eight years, Annette travelled between Sydney and Melbourne. Kenja Communication promised it would make her a happier person. She wanted to believe that, so she followed them loyally.
On multiple occasions, energy conversion therapy or “processing sessions” were completed naked.
“Ken said it helped energy flow freely through the body. Once, when I woke from the fog of a naked processing session, Ken was lying on top of me with his trousers and underpants around his ankles,” she said.
“But my Kenjan mind-training kicked in and I immediately dismissed the idea he’d acted inappropriately, reasoning I could trust Ken and, if he’d touched me, I’d remember it.”
In 1992, Annette read an article calling Kenja Communication a cult and she realised she hadn’t achieved anything from her 10 years with the organisation. She was becoming sceptical and continued her reading.
She read articles and books about being put into a trance and finally, everything clicked for Annette. She realised the processing sessions were a form of hypnosis.
Soon, she told Kenja Communication she was leaving. She asked them not to contact her and she moved in with her mother in Melbourne, where she suffered from hallucinations, heart palpitations and migraines.
She was broke and had no relationship with her children. Within a few years, however, she was able to mend things and even remarried in 1996.
Dyers’ charges and death
In 1993, Dyers was charged with 11 counts of sexual offences against four girls aged between eight and 15 years, three of whom were sisters. The trial lasted almost a decade before he was found not guilty of 10 of the 11 charges.
He was charged separately for the 11th charge and spent six days at Long Bay Correctional Centre before being released on bail.
Dyers appealed the conviction in 2000 but failed. However, in 2002, the charge was overturned in the High Court of Australia as the trial judge may have misdirected the jury. A retrial was not requested as Dyers had “already served his sentence”.
In 2005, Dyers was hauled back into court for the sexual assault of two 12-year-old girls in Surry Hills, Sydney. Dyers insisted he was not guilty and said former members were trying to destroy him as part of a witch hunt.
Dyers’ lawyer said the girls “know how to say no, they get educated in school” and “there will be contrary medical evidence indicating that Mr Dyers has had erectile dysfunction for almost 15 years”.
He was released on bail with the condition he not attend any Kenja Communication events and report to Sutherland Police Station every week. He applied for a permanent stay because of his mental health, but he was only granted a temporary stay of one year.
On the 25th of July 2005, Dyers received a phone call from his lawyer saying another young girl had come forward with allegations of abuse. Rather than facing another charge, Dyers shot himself in the head the following day.
Kenja Communication refuses to join the National Redress Scheme
Image: Sydney Morning Herald
In July 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called out the organisations who had failed to meet the June 30th deadline to join the National Redress Scheme. Among them: the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Fairbridge Restored Limited and Kenja Communication.
Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston created a new deadline: December 31st 2020. If the organisations refused to join before this date, they would lose their charitable status, lose Commonwealth grants and lose their tax exemptions.
While the Jehovah’s Witnesses have since joined and Fairbridge Restored Limited has gone into liquidation, Kenja Communication still stands against the National Redress Scheme.
After standing by her partner for 15 years in court, Hamilton still maintains no sexual abuse occurred within Kenja Communication.
In fact, Hamilton has invoked the Christian Porter Defence. Attorney-General Christian Porter denies the historical rape allegations against him. Refusing to hold an inquiry into the allegations, Porter said:
“There are circumstances where someone might absolutely believe something, but it might not be a reliable account. That is actually why we have a justice system. It is why we have courts and the presumption of innocence and burdens of proof.”
“Anyone can contact the scheme and say they were abused as a child and without due process, in fact, it appears without any real process, can receive up to $150,000 in compensation,” Hamilton said in their online statement.
“We are of the view that recent events including the Christian Porter case confirm the legitimacy and appropriateness of the position we have taken regarding not joining the National Redress Scheme. In our respectful opinion, if it is proper for the Attorney-General to invoke the rule of law, it is also proper for us.”
Senator Ruston says their argument is “astonishing” and does not excuse their position with 77 claims against them.
The stories about Kenja Communication are both bizarre and abhorrent. Many former members have come forward with similar stories about sexual “processing sessions” and unacceptable behaviour.
Dyers and Hamilton have allegedly used and abused their power to control their members. Hamilton will not bow to the pressure of Senator Ruston or the Royal Commission, leaving many survivors in limbo.
At Kelso Lawyers, we stand for survivors of institutional abuse. We can approach organisations like Kenja Communications who refuse to join the National Redress Scheme and seek compensation through the civil courts. We will ensure you receive the recognition and compensation you deserve.
Get the justice you deserve with Kelso Lawyers. We want to hear your story. Call (02) 4907 4200 or complete the online form before you accept payment from the National Redress Scheme.
Image: the Mirror UK