“Bernie and I gave some thought to the idea of a foundation bearing his name, around the time of his diagnosis with mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, in August 2007. Following Bernie’s initial diagnosis of asbestosis 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. He 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.” – Karen Banton
The Bernie Banton Foundation was founded in June 2009 by its’ CEO, Karen Banton, the widow of Bernie Banton AM. The Foundation ceased operating 30 June 2020, after announcing on the 28 January 2020, its’ planned winding up and pending closure via a media release which attracted a reach of 31 million. It was an Australian national (New South Wales based and registered) mesothelioma cancer, and other asbestos related diseases victim support and patient related advocacy organisation, offering and providing support in all Australian states and territories.
Karen Banton established the Foundation to uphold what Bernie Banton believed in; to assist people to navigate the difficult journey an asbestos related disease diagnosis presents; to enable people to have informed choice about specialist asbestos dust litigators, medical professionals and care providers; to prevent people being exposed to asbestos dust/fibres by creating awareness of mesothelioma asbestos cancer and other asbestos related diseases; and to advocate for, and to be:
‘The voice of reason for Australian asbestos related disease sufferers, their carers and loved ones, allied health and care providers, and to the wider community.’
The Foundation was an independent, apolitical, not for profit organisation with authority to operate in all Australian states and territories. It was run on the ethos of hope, faith, love, compassion, patience and respect; and the values of integrity, service, accountability, empathy, knowledge and empowerment. It was a broad community family that welcomes anybody who fell within the Foundation’s realm of activity. It did not discriminate on the basis of political, corporate, union or religious belief, age, race, gender, sexual orientation or creed. The Foundation did not charge, or place expectation of donations being made for any of its’ services (however, gratefully accepted donations from those who appreciated the support or services it offered), neither did it have any ‘pay by referral’ or ‘quota’ type relationship with any legal firms, medical specialists, individuals; corporate, union, or government bodies. It did however have relationships with, and recommended people and organisations it believed are specialists at what they do, are holistic and importantly, ethical! The Bernie Banton Foundation provided all support orientated matters related to asbestos disease, including sufferer, carer and family support, patient advocacy, awareness, education and information under the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Related Support (MARSupport) Australia banner.
The two core objectives of the Foundation’s MARSupport were to: Facilitate and empower sufferers, their carers and loved ones, and those bereaved to move forward and live their journey without regret by:
- Providing an asbestos disease support helpline and online information;
- Offering peer-based person to person (phone) emotional support and encouragement from people who have lived a similar (asbestos disease) journey;
- Providing relevant and unbiased up to date information about treatments and care options;
- Honestly answering questions about what to expect from treatments and the relevant disease;
- Referring sufferers to medical and legal professionals who are acknowledged specialists in their field and importantly, who are also thought of as being ethical and holistic;
- Being the voice of reason and advocating on behalf of sufferers, their carers, their loved ones, those bereaved, and allied health and care providers; and
- When feasible, meeting with asbestos related disease sufferers, their carers and loved ones face to face.
Promote awareness and education, and provide information, about mesothelioma asbestos cancer and other asbestos related diseases to the wider community via:
- Online website and internet based sites, pages and portals,
- Via public news media outlets (online, print, radio and TV) and social media sites,
- Media and other targeted specific programs; and
- Where practicable, via face to face meetings, seminars, symposiums, etc.
MARSupport encompassed sufferers, carers, family and those bereaved in every state and territory of Australia. Direct contacts (or conversations) of a support nature, including our Asbestos Disease Support Helpline number in the 1000s per year.It was active online via its’ comprehensive website and internet based support, awareness and information platform. The Bernie Banton Foundation provided asbestos awareness and educational information regarding asbestos, online via the Asbestos Awareness Australia tab. It acted locally though communicated globally with like-minded organisations in an effort to alleviate suffering resulting from asbestos dust exposure.