Quentin Bryce has called on the Royal Humane Society to strip a bravery award from a jailed Black Saturday fire fighter who kicked his partner in the head so hard he snapped her optic nerve and left her blinded in one eye.
The Governor-General, a patron of the Royal Humane Society, wrote to the society in March after Paul Francis McCuskey received the award while he was serving a minimum three year jail term for bashing his former partner Jeannie Blackburn in a series of vicious assaults in 2009.
McCuskey, who helped save an elderly woman and her pets during Victoria's Black Saturday bushfires, dragged Jeannie from their bed and kicked her in the head and face, leaving her lying in a pool of blood.
In an earlier assault, he kicked in the stomach while she was pregnant. She later miscarried.
When informed of McCuskey's crimes, the society reviewed the award but decided to let it stand, prompting Ms Bryce to write: "Violence against women should not be tolerated or condoned whenever it occurs, not least in a situation that is an affront to the very principles for which the Royal Humane Society stands … if the society is to banish violence against women, I suggest a zero tolerance is the only way forward."
The society's decision to uphold McCuskey's award devastated Jeannie Blackburn.
"How can a man who beat me and kicked me and robbed me of my sight be given a bravery award while he's in prison?" says Ms Blackburn, 48.
"What message does that send about domestic violence? It's like another slap in the face."
The society is now conducting a second review but public pressure continues to build; a petition started by a Queensland woman to have McCuskey's award taken away has gathered nearly 8000 signatures with more people signing every day.
Your say: Do you think the Humane Society should strip McCuskey of his bravery award?