Karen was the backbone of Bernie
At the turn of this century, Bernie Banton became the public face of a campaign for justice for workers who acquired an asbestos-related disease. Bernie’s courageous fight shed light for millions on the prevalence of asbestos and dust diseases in our society. A problem that is far from over.
Bernie’s victory in the David and Goliath battle for recognition and compensation for sufferers is well documented and part of the Australian psyche in books, film and television. He was bestowed the Order of Australia in 2005 for his work as an advocate for sufferers and passed away peacefully in 2007. Bernie was deservedly honoured with a state funeral.
The not-for-profit charity, the Bernie Banton Foundation began in 2009 and is run by Bernie’s widow Karen Banton along with her husband Rod, who also lost a spouse to the deadly dust.
“Karen was the backbone of Bernie,” says Rod, before taking a phone inquiry from their Warrawee home office. They run the foundation in Bernie’s memory to provide support to sufferers of asbestos-related diseases and their families.
In the early days, Bernie and Karen were members of a support group supported by icare dust diseases care and later Karen and her son received much needed financial support as icare dust diseases care scheme participants. Karen now assists others and offers education and advocates for sufferers of mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases. The terminal diagnosis, Karen says, “completely throws your life upside down”.