Orphanage founder Geraldine Cox has filed a defamation lawsuit in Australia against a recent university graduate over comments made on Facebook criticising her charity work.

Cox, a former Australian diplomat who in the 1990s founded Sunrise Cambodia, yesterday declined to comment on her case against 27-year-old fellow Australian Juanita Zankin and said her lawyers would soon issue a statement.

The complaint, filed at the Australian Capital Territory’s Magistrates Court, concerns a Facebook exchange in February, according to a report by Australian newspaper the Canberra Times on Saturday.

On a post by Canberra law firm Ben Aulich and Associates featuring a photo of the firm’s proprietor alongside Cox and a caption praising the latter’s Cambodian charity work, Zankin posted a comment condemning the organisation and its founder.

According to the Canberra Times, the comment was removed after 38 minutes but had read: “Are you not aware of the harm this woman has caused? A shameful cause to raise funds for. This woman is despised in Cambodia. Do some research”.

Cox, claiming aggravated damages, alleges that the post damaged her reputation and was meant to harm donations to the organisation, which houses more than 300 children in three centres in Cambodia and also provides community services.

Zankin, who recently graduated with a law degree and travelled to Cambodia in 2016 on a university tour, also declined to comment. Her defence will argue she had merely tried to advise potential donors to inform themselves about allegations of degrading children in advertising and international opposition to orphanages, according to the Canberra Times.

An ad campaign by Sunrise Cambodia prompted a backlash last year by using photos of children that some labelled “poverty porn”. A representative of the charity at the time said the children were paid models.