How Steven Trask of Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service Jettisoned Journalistic Truth and Transparency

“To be transparent, I’m interested in the relationship between the Church of Scientology and affiliated not-for-profit groups.”

Such was the pitch SBS writer Steve Trask made to the Church of Scientology of Australia in September 2021—nearly two months after embarking on his purported story on the Church’s humanitarian programs that have brought help throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Steve Trask SBS Australia

Trask should have added: “And to be totally transparent, I have already written my preconceived article and backed it up with bigoted, cherry-picked sources. I’m not researching a story. I’m trying to twist the facts to deceive readers into thinking that your humanitarian programs throughout the Indo-Pacific addressing illiteracy, drug abuse and criminality are something nefarious.”

Trask’s bias was evident from the start. The truth could easily be found in volumes on the homepage of the Church’s website at and dozens upon dozens of programs on The Church has always been entirely open about its relationship to the affiliated not-for-profit groups it has supported throughout the world for decades.

His omissions were an attempt to make sure SBS readers could not find the accurate information, even after he was provided with the facts.

The entire premise of Trask’s story is predicated on the inane falsehood that the Church is “shrinking” and thus attempting to recruit new members through its humanitarian programs. Church of Scientology Australia representative Vicki Dunstan provided Trask no less than 59 links to different websites and content that provide full information about the Church, its expansion and the humanitarian work done by the social betterment and community programs it supports.

Trask refused to pass on to his readers a single website address. Similarly, he left his readers in the dark on all the information about the Church and its programs that is available on the Church’s television network. Nor did he provide the address for or even make mention of it.

His omissions were an attempt to make sure SBS readers could not find the accurate information, even after he was provided with the facts.

The growth of Scientology through the past decade in Australia and the Asia Pacific region has been explosive, with new Churches continually opened to support their growing congregations. New Churches of Scientology have opened in Melbourne; Kaohsiung; Sydney; Tokyo; Chatswood; Auckland; and most recently Perth.

These are just Churches in the Pacific region. Church after Church has opened across the world including in Kyalami, South Africa; Kansas City, Missouri; Central Ohio; and Ventura, California.

With each new Church come the facilities, parishioner manpower, and civic and governmental partnerships to address the problems faced by communities throughout their regions.

Churches of Scientology have sponsored charitable activities such as those being carried out in the Indo-Pacific region for more than half a century.

The Scientology Volunteer Ministers, established in the 1970s, alone comprise one of the world’s largest global disaster relief forces and stand ready to help anyone, anywhere, with compassion and care.

In the Indo-Pacific region, where natural disasters are all too common, 600 Church of Scientology Volunteer Ministers from 28 nations, including Australia, served after the December 2004 tsunami that devastated the coasts of Southeast Asia and India. In 2007, Scientology Volunteer Ministers provided help in Indonesia in the wake of flooding which left thousands homeless. In 2016, they responded to Fiji’s cyclone. In 2018, Scientology Volunteer Ministers were again on the ground in Indonesia, in the aftermath of the Lombok earthquake. They served the island for a month after the disaster and continued delivering community assistance workshops there until the onset of the pandemic.

Applied Scholastics, founded in 1972, is a secular nonprofit, public benefit corporation dedicated to improving education with Study Technology, L. Ron Hubbard’s learning and literacy discoveries that anyone may learn and apply. That information is available at: Applied Scholastics: Achieving Literacy, Education and Learning.

Narconon, founded in 1966, is a drug-free withdrawal, detoxification and rehabilitation program that uses Mr. Hubbard’s technology that has helped tens of thousands recover from the devastation of drug addiction. Narconon: Saving Lives from Drug Addiction.

Criminon, founded in 1970—in New Zealand at that—is a rehabilitation program whose sole purpose is to help offenders recover their self-esteem and become productive members of society. Criminon: Building a World Free of Crime.

The Church, supported by its members, in turn supports these international programs. Of course were the Church’s membership declining as Trask claimed, there would be no funds to support such activities.

As for Trask’s ludicrous allegation that the Church’s humanitarian work is an effort to recruit new members, Church representative Vicki Dunstan responded: “Can you actually say with a straight face that you think Scientology attempts to get new members by searching out the illiterate, drug-addicted criminals of society?”

Trask did not respond. Instead, he reached out more than 9,200 miles to another hemisphere to find sources who would tell him what he wanted to hear—Mike Rinder and Aaron Smith-Levin.

Mike Rinder is a man who was removed in disgrace from any position of authority in the Church nearly two decades ago because of his dishonesty and malfeasance and, as revealed by Rinder’s partner in crime, subornation of perjury. Of particular relevance to Steve Trask’s story, one of Rinder’s final failures was his negligence of the Church’s humanitarian programs owing to his incompetence. But as Rinder further proved, he stood for nothing the Church’s humanitarian programs represent: He went on to abandon the mother of his two children, before violently attacking her in front of their daughter and disabling her permanently.

Rinder brought to Trask his sidekick Aaron Smith-Levin. The pair have much in common—both are bigots; both are sources-for-hire who never learned to do an honest day’s work.

Smith-Levin was never involved in the Church’s humanitarian endeavors. Rather, he was ousted from the Church for his misconduct and violence, then infiltrated and spied on the Church and the Scientologist community in Clearwater, Florida, for Mike Rinder, reporting back to him for several years. 

Legitimate journalists well know that carping statements from ex-members trying to discredit an organization they are no longer part of are as reliable as the cheating husband running down the wife he just divorced.

But this bigoted pair was the perfect duo to try and bolster the fact-free premise Trask so doggedly pursued, even after being provided more than ample evidence that proved otherwise.

Trask’s decidedly opaque viewpoint was 180 degrees in opposition to the SBS Code of Practice, to which he and the organization he works for are reputedly bound. A key point in that Code states: “SBS will avoid content which clearly condones, tolerates or encourages prejudice and discrimination, taking into account the context in which the material is presented.”

Trask knew the entire premise of his story was a falsehood and his sources were prejudiced. As the Australian Church representative responded when she first received his questions: “In short, the allegations you forward make you look ridiculous. One would have to be deaf, dumb and blind to think that.”

Rather than taking an honest look at his subject and providing the truth, Trask hoped to prejudice SBS readers against the thriving Australian Scientology community and everything they have to offer freedom-loving Australians. 

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