“Bernie was a major force in the fight for justice and compensation for asbestos-related disease
sufferers. It has been an honour to continue Bernie’s legacy of supporting victims and their loved
A succession plan for the Foundation was considered, then put aside because of costs and other concerns in hiring appropriate replacements. Instead, the Foundation’s resources and assets will be transferred to another organisation with a similar purpose and values.
“It is time to hand the baton to other support organisations, take a step back ourselves and take a well-earned break,” Mrs Banton said.
After being widowed twice, Mrs Banton said she wanted her third husband to focus on his health. Mr Smith, who has been the Foundation’s awareness and support co-ordinator for eight years, lost his partner to the dust disease mesothelioma in 2008.
Since the not-for-profit organisation was founded in 2009, it has helped more than 1100 asbestos disease sufferers and their family members. Among them is Andrew McGinty, who turned to the Foundation in 2016 after his father-in-law from Forbes in country NSW was diagnosed with absbestos-related lung cancer. He was given six to 12 months to live but survived another 18 months until September 2018 with the help of medication.
Describing Rod Smith and Karen Banton as “two amazing individuals”, Mr McGinty said they were always available on the phone to offer support any time of the day or night.
“I’ll stay in contact with them for the rest of my life,” Mr McGinty said.
“The Foundation supported us through the process. They put us in touch with the dust disease care board which provide healthcare and expensive medication,” Mr McGinty said.
“Without the Bernie Banton Foundation we wouldn’t have got any of that support.
“The genuine care they have shown for patients and family members is out of this world.”
The Foundation has helped victims and their families access medical treatment, palliative care and legal options as well as raising public awareness about asbestos exposure.
“We encourage government, organisations and advocates to continue their support for asbestos awareness as a means to prevent future asbestos exposure and also for medical research into
asbestos-related diseases in an effort to discover new treatments toward ultimately finding a cure,” Banton said.