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Wife beater not brave after all: Humane Society rescinds award

Wife beater not brave after all: Humane Society rescinds award
Royal Humane Society patron and Governor General Quentin Bryce.

The Humane Society has stripped a man of his bravery award after The Australian Women's Weekly revealed he had been jailed for beating his wife.

During a series of attacks, Paul Francis McCuskey kicked his partner Jeannie Blackburn in the head so hard he snapped her optic nerve and left her blinded in one eye.

He also kicked her in the stomach while she was pregnant. She later miscarried.

Earlier this year The Weekly revealed that despite his conviction for domestic violence, McCuskey, had been given a merit award for his bravery by the Humane Society after he and his cohort of fire-fighters helped save an elderly woman and her pets during Victoria's Black Saturday bushfires.

The society initially decided to let the award stand. However, the story prompted Governor General Quentin Bryce — a patron of the society — to write to the award's organisers, saying: "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."

It also prompted Jeannie's supporters to begin a petition to have McCuskey stripped of the award. It gathered 18,000 signatures.

Earlier this week, the society unanimously voted to reverse its position and strip McCuskey of the award.

"I am completely overwhelmed by the support the public has given me on this issue," said Jeannie.

"It's an incredible victory for the huge community of people who have come together to take a stand against domestic violence."

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