An activist has been condemned for suggesting firefighters commit acts of domestic violence.
Bushfires across NSW and Queensland have claimed four lives and destroyed about one million hectares of farmland and bush. About 300 homes have been destroyed in NSW alone.
Sherele Moody, the founder of The Red Heart Campaign which supports victims of domestic violence, appeared alongside Greens senator Larissa Waters at a press conference on Wednesday.
"After a cataclysmic event like this, domestic violence peaks," she told reporters.
"Women become extremely unsafe, when generally the men return home from the fires and subject them to domestic violence."
She added “this isn’t to suggest every man on the frontline is a domestic violence perpetrator”.
NSW Rural Fire Service tweeted on Thursday morning more than 800 fire fighters are working throughout the state. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said it had about 200 vehicles on the ground.
Moody’s appearance was to support a Change.org petition to remove One Nation leader Pauline Hanson from the national family law enquiry.
Moody, a News Corp journalist, didn’t back down from her comments on Facebook either.
“There's not one Aussie whose heart isn't going out to the country's firefighters, emergency services crews and the people who live in the areas where the fires are burning,” she wrote.
“But what happens after some heroes go home?
“What happens when domestic violence perpetrators finish their work on the frontline of a major crisis?”
Moody wrote the men “abuse the women in their lives - harder than they ever have”.
“Let me be clear. I am not saying every firefighter, emergency service responder or victim of this crisis is a perpetrator,” she wrote.
“However, those who are in these roles and do perpetrate family abuse are more likely to attack their loved ones following natural disasters.”
‘How dare you, these men are heroes’
Her comments weren’t well received with people calling Moody “ignorant” and “idiotic”.
“How dare you! These men are heroes,” one man wrote.
Another man accused Moody of “kicking” firefighters “while they’re down”.
A woman, claiming to be a volunteer firefighter, wrote while domestic violence does occur it’s not to the extent Moody outlines.
“Why don't you actually go and meet some volunteers, talk to them about what they do what they see how they cope, before you make 80 per cent of the nation's fire service into wife bashers?” she wrote.
“You have no idea what we do, how we cope, what we see, how most of us have supporting families behind us.”
However, others wrote Moody’s comments had been misunderstood.
“This is not about all firefighters,” one woman wrote.
“We all care about firefighters. We need to care about the support they will get in the weeks to come.”
Others pointed out many people facing natural disasters suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.
Greens distance themselves from activist’s comments
Former Gold Coast Police Detective Inspector Dr Terry Goldworthy criticised Moody’s comments as “grubby” and accused her of “trying to grab the limelight on the misfortune of others”.
“As someone who works in the area these comments are totally inappropriate and do more harm than good to victims of DV,” Dr Goldworthy tweeted.
Ms Waters, who was standing next to Moody during the press conference, also distanced herself and the Greens from the activist’s statements.
“The Greens absolutely do not support the statement made today by Sherele Moody that firefighters are responsible for an increase in domestic violence during times of disaster,” Ms Waters told SBS.
She also told 7 News, Moody “does not speak for us”.
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