Melbourne's Monash University has suspended a staff member who tweeted TV celebrity Charlotte Dawson, saying "on behalf of NZ we would like you to please go hang yourself".
Sydney-based Dawson, who recently described her native New Zealand as "small, nasty and vindictive", traced the abusive tweet to Tanya Heti who manages a student mentoring programme.
The university on Wednesday issued a statement saying it "does not condone or endorse" Ms Heti's comments in a Twitter exchange with Dawson.
"The university has directed Ms Heti to take leave with pay and is in the process of investigating the matter at this time," the statement said, adding there'd be no further comment until investigations were concluded.
Dawson confronted Ms Heti about abusive posts directed at her and a Melbourne follower who had lost her partner to suicide.
That follower admonished Ms Heti for her tweet directed at Dawson, News Ltd newspapers reported.
Ms Heti replied to the Melbourne woman: "if I was your fiance I'd hang myself too #gohangyourself."
When Dawson phoned Ms Heti to challenge the comments, she said she was told she was a "well-to-do white girl" who should be able to cope.
Ms Heti, who previously worked on a student mentoring scheme in Auckland, told News Ltd she had been "instructed not to give a comment" and as the university had issued a comment "that should suffice for now".
NZ Newswire could not contact her for comment on Wednesday.
Dawson said anonymous abuse should be policed more closely by Twitter and those publishing offensive or dangerous material held to account.
"When someone is this vulnerable, as my follower was, it doesn't take much to make them feel more fragile and a failure. To be exposed to this kind of attack is abhorrent."
Dawson, a judge on Australia's Top Model, told the Herald on Sunday earlier this month about how she was "savaged" as a celebrity living in New Zealand from 2002 to 2007.
"New Zealand is small, nasty and vindictive. It's a tiny, little village ... a tiny country at the end of the earth," she said.