Bernie and I discussed the establishment of the Bernie Banton Foundation well before his diagnosis of mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, in August 2007. Following Bernie's initial diagnosis of asbestosis and asbestos-related pleural disease in 1999, he became a passionate fighter for justice on behalf of asbestos disease sufferers and their families. Bernie was also a man of great compassion and felt it both humbling and an honour to effect positive change and inject hope for Australians everywhere, through his 'never take no for an answer' attitude.
Although Bernie’s quality of life was greatly diminished by the breathlessness he experienced, he considered himself to be 'one of the lucky ones '. Indeed, Bernie was blessed with a God-given strength and the inspirational words to be an influential voice, gaining victory via a tide of support from family and friends, unions, media, politicians, the general public, and of course asbestos disease sufferers and their families.
Together through faith, Bernie and I faced – and were able to overcome – every battle. With the support of some close friends, I feel privileged to continue Bernie's legacy. I know Bernie would be pleased and proud, concerning the hope and support being offered by the Bernie Banton Foundation.