Perth couple say they were subjected to ‘cruel’ and ‘degrading’ abuse during interview at Shalom House

Peter Lyndon-James.
Peter Lyndon-James.

SHALOM House drug rehabilitation founder Peter Lyndon-James has responded angrily to claims by a Perth couple who say they were subjected to ‘cruel’ and ‘degrading’ abuse during an intake interview with their son who was seeking help for meth addiction.

The Robinson* family – who asked their real names not be used – said they found Mr Lyndon-James’ behaviour concerning and the experience had been psychologically damaging.

“Before we met Peter we thought he was an amazing saviour, and he was the man to help our son, our last hope,” the couple said.

“Before our son was granted an interview, he called up about 11 times over three days and was repeatedly hung up on, before Peter finally told him to come in the following day with us.

“We were met at the petrol station by one of Peter’s staff members who took us to Shalom’s office nearby.

“We waited for over an hour in a meeting room and outside we could hear Peter swearing his head off very loudly which was very intimidating.

“Peter then swung the door open and burst into the room and he was angry that we were there, and was saying, ‘escort these f*cking people off my property once you’ve finished speaking with them – they are worse than drug dealers’.

“It got worse with Peter pointing at our son and continuing swearing at him.

“My son is very strong and independent and it was clear to us that Peter was trying to break him.

“It was like those mind games out of movies.”

Community News put the allegations to Mr Lyndon-James which he did not respond to.

However, he addressed the claims in a Facebook post and denied he swore.

“I don’t swear. Back in the day I used to shoot them swear words out like a machine gun,” he said.

“Yes, I am a real prickle. Yes, I am blunt and sometimes rude. Yes, I tell it how it is to the mother and father and everyone else for that matter.

“Yes, I can be intimidating. I can be arrogant too, but in a loving way. I am very straight to the point, I say it as it is.

“Most people think in their brains what I say with my mouth and I make no apologies for it.”

Mr Lyndon-James said a tough-love approach was needed to restore the lives of these men and their families.

“I am not a florist who will make you a cup of tea and give you a bunch of flowers and a scone with jam and cream,” he said.

“No, I will yell at you and tell you that what you’re doing is not okay, you’re hurting people.

“If you are the parent then I will yell at you too for being the idiot for having them in the home and enabling them to do what they should not do.

“If you don’t like it my way, well then hit the blooming highway, don’t ring me.”

The couple’s son warned people to think twice before entering Shalom House.

“I had seen all the positive stories in the media and thought it sounded like a good place for me to recover,” he said.

“After what my family went through I’d tell people to stay away from Shalom.”

The son was also critical of the facility’s attitude towards homosexuality.

“I’m gay and after my parents raised concerns about my sexuality whilst staying at Shalom I was told I wasn’t gay, I was just suffering from a disorder,” he said.

Mr Lyndon-James did not respond to whether he thought homosexuality was a disorder or whether he believed it could be ‘cured’ through his five-stage program.

A recent media report by Community News involving the mother of a resident at the strict, faith-based rehabilitation centre, who raised concerns with senior government ministers over claims of a “cult-like” approach by Shalom House, stirred anger among some of Shalom House’s supporters.

Cherie Herd said she related to Mr Lyndon-James tough-love approach and credited it with saving her family.

“Swearing and telling some people how it is works for this program. (If) don’t like Peter’s swear words, go,” she said.

“It gets points across to myself and the residents that I sit alongside weekly as now I have joined the program to understand how to change my heart too.

“My marriage was over, a violence restraining order was in place and my children were devastated, confused, angry and distraught.

“Twelve months down the track my husband and I are about to renew our vows. We have been given a second chance at life together.

“We have had the most incredible counselling, including our three children, for free for 12 months and it’s ongoing.

“I now have a man, a leader, a compassionate, giving and loving husband and father.

“All due to one man’s belief that heart change first is the only way to heal one’s self and in turn their loved ones.”