Bond Uni has been in the news recently with criminologist lecturer Professor Paul Wilson facing court on child abuse charges. Former student Fiona Barnett says the rot at the University goes deep.
Trapped inside Australia's vast child abuse network (Part 2)
As disgruntled students have discovered, Alan Bond structured the private organisation so it evades public unaccountability — despite the fact the university accesses public funds in the form of student loans. Bond University’s lack of public accountability stems in part from the fact that it is not actually a university but rather a corporation legally permitted to borrow the title ‘university.’
I undertook postgraduate psychology studies at Bond University from 2006 to 2007, and again from 2009 to 2010. In 2013, I reported Bond University to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. My complaint contained a long list of offences in relation to the cover-up of paedophile activities, pro-paedophilia course content, the misuse of students’ personal child abuse histories, and the sexual harassment and assault of students by certain lecturers.
High-profile psychologist damns Bond University
I provided the Royal Commission with the transcript of legally obtained recordings of Bob Montgomery, previous president of the APS (Australian Psychological Society) and former Head of Psychology at Bond University.
Dr Montgomery described Bond as follows:
It is one of the worst run universities I’ve ever seen. It’s dishonest. It’s been dishonest all the time I’ve known it....
Bond University will do all the scullduggerous things they can to deny any mispractice ....
While I was there, they had a lunatic professor of psychology.... He was caught screwing his secretary on the desk. The outcome was he sacked the secretary and the vice-chancellor backed him up....
So, you might have a realistic concern if you enrol for an externship that they may try to manipulate the situation in some way to try and put you in a bad light. And you’ve got to put that in your decision-making mix.....
If you decide to plough ahead with Bond University. you will be dealing with people who are out to get you, nasty, willing to do dishonest things, and getting increasingly desperate because not only have they not knocked you down, but you’re coming back even stronger.
Extract from transcript of interview with Dr Bob Montgomery (from four audio tapes on file).
Bond University covers-up child sexual abuse
While working in the Bond University Psychology Clinic, a 10-year-old DOCS client and her foster mother disclosed to me that a former foster carer and convicted paedophile had sexually assaulted my client, along with other children.
In direct contravention of Queensland legislation regarding the concealment of child abuse, Bond University forbade me from reporting these crimes to the police.
I persuaded one lecturer to let me inform the Queensland Children's Commissioner of the allegations. Bond University, however, subsequently withdrew my complaint to the Commissioner without my knowledge and then lied to the Commissioner by saying they had done so in consultation with me.
While the Commissioner upheld my complaint and proceeded with an investigation, Bond University chastised me and said my complaint jeopardised their relationship with the DOCS office, upon which they relied for clients to keep the Bond Clinic running.
Bond University’s pro-paedophilia teachings
In 2013, I asked the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse to investigate Bond University with respect to its pro-paedophilia teachings.
These teachings include the writings of a psychology and criminology lecturer, and Order of Australia medal recipient, Professor Paul Wilson, who served as Dean of Humanities at Bond University for 10 years.
In one of his books, subtitled Sexual Experiences between Men and Boys, the professor promoted the benefits of paedophilia and renaming this crime “Greek love.”
The professor also published articles on Bond University’s website, which stated that children are often willing participants in child sexual abuse. (The Royal Commission gasped when I read that fact out.)
In late 2012, Paul Wilson was charged with six counts of indecent dealings with two girls — one of whom was under 12 years old. In May 2014, he was committed to stand trial.
The same professor taught me at Bond University. He and other Bond lecturers, in my view, encouraged a strong anti-victim/pro-perpetrator stance in their classes.
For example, one lecturer endorsed the notion that technically there is no such thing as a victim of crime because a criminal case involves the defendant versus the crown instead of the defendant versus a victim. On another occasion, I had marks deducted for briefly mentioning a victim’s perspective in an essay.
Bond University lecturers strongly endorsed the flawed ‘false memory syndrome' writings of USA psychologist Elizabeth Loftus. The Royal Commission commended my submission against Loftus’ writings and my condemnation of her association with the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF).
The FMSF was founded by Peter Freyd and his wife (and step-sister) Pamela after their daughter, Professor Jennifer Freyd, accused Peter of child sexual abuse. Apart from founding the FMSF, Peter has publicly endorsed paedophilia as a responsible lifestyle choice and allowing siblings to marry.
The effect of the FMSF has been to discredit child abuse witness testimony and the existence of well organised paedophile rings.
Bond University sexually harasses students
Bond University has a history of sexually harassing students.
During my 2009-10 enrolment, the following incidents occurred: a postgraduate student handed out pamphlets on campus alleging that a senior staff member had sexually harassed him and that the university had engaged in cult-like practises; a female lecturer offered a teenage girl who was on scholarship, sex in exchange for good grades; and a male lecturer offered a legal minor, also on scholarship, sex in exchange for good grades.
The girl’s father, a lawyer, threatened to lodge a complaint with the AHRC (Australian Human Rights Commission). In an effort to placate the family, Bond University offered the girl a transfer to her preferred Sydney University.
I witnessed a Bond University lecturer regularly throw parties at her house, during which students were supplied copious amounts of alcohol. I also saw the lecturer instigate a game of ‘sexual disclosure’ spin-the-bottle with her students.
Bond University pressures students to disclose child abuse histories
Bond University psychology staff exhibited a pattern of obtaining students’ personal information, which they would then use to hold students to ransom if they complained about their Bond experience.
I witnessed lecturers’ concerted efforts to bait a fellow student into disclosing her child abuse history to them.
“She came so close to disclosing!” one lecturer told me on one occasion, in a state of high excitement.
I was pressured to disclose my personal history of child sexual abuse to Bond University lecturers during psychological supervision and while socialising with lecturers in their homes and also at my home.
According to my understanding, the lecturers’ abuse of their authority, and their pressuring of me to disclose personal information, constituted a breach of the APS Code of Ethics and Guidelines.
During my studies, I was sexually harassed by a Bond University staff member. My experience of sexual harassment occurred in response to the disclosure of my child sexual abuse. The same lecturer tricked me into sleeping in her bed at a student party, described my breasts as “magnificent”, before grabbing one and massaging it in a sexual manner.
Formal complaints against Bond University
I rejected a Bond University lecturer’s unwanted sexual advances and complained to Bond University and to the Psychology Board. I also lodged a complaint of sexual harassment and disability discrimination with the Australian Human Rights Commission, which upheld my entire complaint.
The disability discrimination section of my complaint related to a visual cortex stroke I suffered during the fifth week of my masters program.
Lecturers used my subsequent disability as a means of harassing me. Staff refused to adhere to the conditions set out by my Bond University disability support officer — consequently, I suffered further damage to my vision.
Bond staff subjected me to extreme bullying and harassment, including exclusion and placing me under excessive scrutiny.
For example, a staff member verbally abused a student peer and reduced her to tears for inviting me to her private engagement party. This victimisation intensified following my initial complaint to the Psychology Board and following my attempts to adhere to mandatory reporting legislation in relation to child abuse disclosure in the university’s psychology clinic.
Bond University’s corruption
In October 2010, to subdue an adversary process I had in place against staff at the time, Bond University staff lodged a vexatious and unsubstantiated notification against me to the Psychology Board, which is administered by AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency).
Bond University staff simultaneously pooled the information they had gleaned about my own childhood sexual abuse. They removed the age I was during the time of my child abuse and reported me as an adult perpetrator instead of a child victim of the same crimes to AHPRA and to the NSW police.
An (11/11/2010) email from AHPRA to a senior Queensland police detective who lectures at Bond University stated:
'It has come to my attention that Ms Barnett is under investigation by police following serious allegations of a criminal nature… if you have any information which may be imperative to the assessment of Ms Barnett’s health, please do not hesitate to contact me.'
The police officer then (26/11/2010) sent the following email to AHPRA from his Bond University email account:
'The last briefing I had was that contact had been made with NSWPOL and they could not identify any outstanding jobs that would match the claims made. They also informed us that the suspect had previously made outlandish claims of a similar nature. The investigation is ongoing but given the above I would suspect it will not be a police matter.'
A second (27/11/10) email from police to AHPRA said:
'At this stage we are unable to find any evidence to what MS BARNETT is saying. MS BARNETT has previously made similar admissions to NSW police in 2008, this investigation was finalised as no evidence could be located to substantiate what MS BARNETT has stated.'
AHPRA used the above correspondence as evidence I was a criminal, as detailed in their 29 March 2011 letter to me:
'…confirmation of similar reported events by the NSW Police Service regarding past criminal activities of a serious nature is a matter that the Board will need to address.'
Evidence AHPRA and Bond emailed NSW Police.
I sent written complaints about these emails to the NSW and Queensland police ministers. Both ministers denied that NSW police provided any information to AHPRA in support of Bond University’s accusation that I was a perpetrator of crimes.
So, either police lied to their ministers about providing emails to AHPRA, or AHPRA fabricated evidence against me.
Bond University staff lied to AHPRA by alleging that I had suddenly became psychotic at an unspecified time, somewhere between the second and third field placements I did as part of my masters program.
They simultaneously treated my child abuse history as both (a) real (i.e., evidence of my alleged criminality) and (b) fictitious (i.e., the product of my alleged sudden psychosis).
Bond University accused me of 'decompensating into psychosis' — despite me having no history or symptoms of psychosis whatsoever.
They made this claim without consulting the only Bond employees who had regular contact with me during the time that this ‘mental illness’ was supposedly manifesting — my two external supervisors.
Dr Gavan Palk (barrister and chair of the APS Forensic College) supervised my second practicum, during which he saw me four hours per week for three months. Dr Norm Barling, who was Bond University’s Clinical Director for 20 years, supervised my third practicum. Both supervisors wrote me glowing references that made a mockery of Bond’s notification.
For instance, Dr Palk wrote:
Ms Barnett impressed as an extremely intelligent person with excellent written and oral skills. She has exceptional writing skills and her psychological reports were very thorough and well written. She demonstrated that she could integrate her clinical experience of clients with objective test results. Her opinions were sound and followed logically from the evidence she gathered through testing and interviews.
In regards to interactions with clients, Ms Barnett demonstrated that she was able to develop and maintain a therapeutic alliance with clients. She also demonstrated a solid command of micro counselling skills and sensitivity to client’s needs. Her approach towards clients was very professional and she had no difficulty in analysing problems, undertaking appropriate research background forming hypotheses, planning and carrying out psychological interventions....
.... In conclusion, it was a pleasure to provide supervision to Ms Barnett. She is a passionate and intelligent person who has persevered in spite of her health difficulties. The writer is very confident that Fiona has the makings of a very fine psychologist and she should be encouraged to undertake a PhD in the area of sensory processing and intellectual giftedness.
All of Bond University’s vague accusations were easily and completely disproved by written evidence, including emails, and letters from witnesses and health professionals that I submitted to AHPRA.
Most telling, Bond University had already passed me, over one year prior to the false and vexatious notification in the very subjects during which the alleged ethical breaches were said to have occurred.
Further, Dr Barling pointed out that if Bond staff had any concerns about my mental health prior to my commencing the third practicum, then ethically and legally they were not permitted to allow me to commence a third work placement — which, of course, they had done.
Bond University submitted to AHPRA and the AHRC a written confession that a Bond lecturer had students attend a sleepover at her house in 2007 — an act which, alone, constituted an alleged breach of the APS Ethical Code and Guidelines.
In this same document, the lecturer lied by alleging I was not enrolled in Bond University at the time of her 2007 party, when academic transcripts clearly show I was, indeed, enrolled.
Despite my excellent academic history – including a grade of 89% in my final theory subject, Psychopharmacology – and with only two subjects to complete before obtaining my master of psychology degree.
Bond University wrote 'withdrawn' on my academic transcript. They then failed to grant me a right of reply to their action and forbade me from accessing their appeals system.
As a consequence, I was robbed of six years of study and close to $100,000 I paid in student loans. And since I was no longer enrolled in a psychology course, AHPRA immediately cancelled my student psychology registration.
Bond University’s double standards
In 2013, Bond University staff allegedly severely breached privacy legislation and ethical standards in the execution of a research project into autism (Project Number RO-1516).
The project’s approved recruitment protocol was for parents to be invited to participate in the study via emails sent from Gold Coast Autism Inc. Instead, the Queensland Education Department provided Bond University with the names, medical history and contact details of state school students who are registered with the department as having autism — without the parents’ knowledge or consent.
One parent told me, Bond University contacted her on a Saturday via her private mobile. When the mother confronted her school principal, he said he knew nothing about the research project.
If true, this ethical breach is monumental and far surpasses the petty ethical breaches that they falsely accused me of committing.
For instance, Bond reported me to AHPRA for 'upsetting a student' by appropriately borrowing a psychology test from the library.
Unbeknownst to me, the student (whom I had never met) wanted the test I had borrowed. The student, who had a history of aggressive behaviour and who had allegedly attracted formal student complaints, stormed in on my client session in the Psychology Clinic and demanded I immediately cease working with my client and give him the test.
Despite the fact my supervisor informed me, via email, that he reported the student to the Psychology Board, one year later Bond staff reported me to AHPRA for the very same incident.
Bond University audited
Because of Bond University’s private status, they proved unaccountable to every government body to which a similarly offended student at a public university might be able to appeal.
Bond is supposedly answerable to the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC), the national body that accredits psychology courses.
In March 2011, APAC commenced an audit of Bond University in response to alleged multiple breaches of APAC Standards. Bond had previously lost accreditation for similar breaches in 2007/2008.
In response to this audit, Bond employed yet another organisational psychologist to conduct student interviews. However, aggrieved students were actively denied access to this investigation.
APAC intervened and virtually begged a fellow offended student and me to attend the interviews. APAC assured us that multiple students had supported and validated our complaints against Bond.
In the end, APAC and the APS did nothing to assist me in my fight for justice and vindication.
In a letter to the AHRC, Bond University documented and criticised my attendance at the APAC interviews. In this letter, they stated that APAC did not take my testimony seriously.
Immediately following the APAC audit, two Bond Psychology Clinic administrators lodged internal complaints against one offending psychology lecturer for her misconduct and her mistreatment of me and other psychology students. Bond University then pressured that lecturer to resign.
The main offending lecturers remain employed at Bond University.
Editor's note: Fiona Barnett has submitted a properly signed and witnessed statutory declaration to IA to support all the statements and allegation she has made in this piece. Most names have been redacted for legal and privacy reasons. Anyone wishing to come forward with any further information on this matter is strongly encouraged to contact managing editor David Donovan via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License