A Dubbo radio presenter broke down in tears live on-air on Tuesday morning after she copped abuse on social media for trying to make light of the Israel Folau-GoFundMe debacle.
Leisha Brodyk, co-presenter of the Zoo FM breakfast show, told listeners she feared shopping at Woolworths and had to think twice about leaving her house after outraged audience members attacked her on Facebook.
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When Folau's decision to ask Australians to help pay for his legal action against Rugby Australia sparked conversations around the nation earlier this week, Brodyk and her co-presenter Dan Hilliard chose to highlight how the GoFundMe online fundraising website could be used to raise money for quirky causes.
The Daily Liberal understands the pair asked listeners to donate to a GoFundMe campaign to help Brodyk buy a pet dog after she had to leave her old dog behind when she moved to Dubbo for work.
"We thought it was hammed up enough that it would be obvious but it wasn't," Hilliard said.
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"Anything that was raised would have gone to Beyondblue," Brodyk said before she apologised to listeners who were offended by what was meant to be an innocent attempt to entertain the audience.
"We upset people, we offended people and that was never the intention," she said.
"We are genuinely sorry that we did actually upset and offend people."
Brodyk and Hilliard said nothing was donated to the page.
"It was really hard to read all that stuff because I've moved to Dubbo and everybody's been so friendly and so welcoming here," Brodyk said.
"I'm not trying to play the victim card... we just never expected that it would blow up like this," she said.
"I know that's part of my job and maybe I need to get thicker skin."
Brodyk said she feared the online abuse would spill over into abuse on the street.
"After work last night I went to Woolworths and I was afraid to be at Woolworths," she said.
It was not fair to direct negative feedback solely to Brodyk because she did not come up with the GoFundMe idea on her own, Hilliard said.
"We are a team and we want to stick together as a team," he said.
After the breakfast show finished on Monday morning, the Facebook post promoting its GoFundMe campaign and the fundraising page itself had to be taken down.
"In a matter of hours it [personal attacks] just became too much, even for us to face," Hilliard said.
"I will never do a 'how dare they do a GoFundMe page' again."
The whole experience has been "emotionally draining" and "gut wrenching", Hilliard said.
He said online words can have a lasting impact on people's well-being and expressed concern for teenagers and vulnerable people who might be attacked online but not have the resilience or public profile to help them cope with the vitriol.