Please note: ADRI HAS NOT BEEN ENDORSED by BERNIE BANTON AM, KAREN BANTON or the BERNIE BANTON FOUNDATION
ADRI’s website features images of Bernie Banton AM, and Bernie’s story prominently on their home page (see the image below). This should not be misconstrued that the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute has sought endorsement or approval from the Bernie Banton Foundation or Karen Banton for this – as ADRI hasn’t!
THIS IMAGE SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AS AN ENDORSEMENT OF ADRI BY BERNIE BANTON AM
THIS IMAGE SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AS AN ENDORSEMENT OF ADRI BY BERNIE BANTON AM
If you are considering making a donation or bequest to ADRI for research, or supporting ADRI in anyway, please do not have the mistaken belief that the late Bernie Banton AM, Karen Banton or the Bernie Banton Foundation has endorsed ADRI.
Let us be very clear on this – the Bernie Banton Foundation has not endorsed ADRI, its research, its practices, or any of its various other non-research related pursuits. Importantly, ADRI is using Bernie’s image without seeking permission, or the blessing of Karen Banton or the Bernie Banton Foundation – had they asked, their request would have been considered in the context of:
‘Have those responsible at ADRI conducted themselves in a fitting manner to meet Bernie’s expectations, and hence deserve the backing of the foundation established in his honour, and to uphold his beliefs?’
Should you wish to donate to mesothelioma research, other than to ADRI, we can put you in contact with world leading Australian researchers in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia who are doing amazing work. Alternatively, we can forward on your research donation directly to credible mesothelioma research on your behalf. For further information contact Rod Smith, the Bernie Banton Foundation Support Co-ordinator on 0418 319 757 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sadly since October 2010, power brokers at ADRI have chosen (for unknown and unstated reasons) for ADRI not to have any association or link of any kind with Karen Banton and the Bernie Banton Foundation – this is despite repeated approaches by the Foundation directly to those concerned, and via official ADRI channels, to find out why those responsible have adopted this non-inclusive stance; and importantly to find a cohesive pathway forward. This disappointing standpoint is frankly baffling, it is divisive and we believe regressive to the cause.
Bernie Banton AM, as the acknowledged public face and voice of asbestos disease victims, lobbied the then NSW Government to establish a dedicated asbestos diseases research institute and build a purpose built facility to house it. The institute was established in 2006 and named the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI). The purpose built building was built and named the Bernie Banton Centre, with Karen Banton being present for the ‘turning of the sod’, the day after Bernie died.
Both the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) and the Bernie Banton Centre, were officially opened in January 2009 by the then Australian Prime Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd. Karen Banton donated and presented a framed photo of Bernie to adorn the Bernie Banton Centre Boardroom wall and minded the shovel used to ‘turn the sod’ at commencement of construction, until the building was completed – both still have pride of place in the ADRI Boardroom.
‘Bernie Banton, who died in 2007 from ARD, campaigned vigorously for the rights of those who suffered from ARD and he was one of a visionary group behind the establishment of an independent research institute for ARD in New South Wales. On the 21 January 2009 the Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd, officially opened the ADRI/Bernie Banton Centre.’ – 2009 ADRI Annual Report [Who We Are, What We Do]
Apart from being instrumental in the establishment of both the ADRI and the Bernie Banton Centre, Bernie was also on the Committee that selected and recruited ADRI’s first Director, Professor Nico van Zandwijk, in 2007 – an appointment he took up on 29 July 2008 and reigned over until the 31st of January 2017.
‘In 2007 the Asbestos Diseases Research Foundation, Bernie Banton and the University of Sydney recruited Nico van Zandwijk to the position of ADRI Director and Professor, Sydney Medical School.’ – 2009 ADRI Annual Report [ADRF – Board Of Directors]
After Bernie’s death, Karen Banton continued to be supportive of the ADRI, and was directly responsible for the ADRI receiving donations totaling many tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars [the final exact amount has never been divulged to Karen] as a result of Karen asking for the general public and for mourners at Bernie Banton AM’s State Funeral to, in lieu of flowers, donate ‘in memory of Bernie’ to the ADRI. A sad indictment on those responsible (but in reflection, a clear indication of what to expect for the future), was the fact no official acknowledgement or appreciation of this gesture was made, or has ever been forthcoming from ADRI – either publicly or privately.
‘Research funding consists of funding received from the wind up of the James Hardie Medical Research Compensation Fund and private donations received in memory of the late Bernie Banton and donations from the general public.’ – ADRF Annual Reports [2012-13 through to 2015-16]
Due to history, and Bernie Banton’s involvement in ADRI and the Bernie Banton Centre coming to fruition, Karen elected to have the Bernie Banton Foundation launched at the Bernie Banton Centre, by Prime Minister Rudd, on the 11th September 2009.
In October 2010, Karen oversaw the Foundation making a generous donation to ADRI (and also to three other Sydney based research organisations) towards furthering research into asbestos-related disease.
A matter of days after this, Prof van Zandwijk, without any explanation given as to why, ceased having any (meaningful or otherwise) interaction or dialogue with the foundation – a situation that has remained to this day.
ADRI also, has shunned Karen Banton personally, and the Bernie Banton Foundation in a demonstrative way since; progressively deleting the existence of the Foundation from their website, out of communications, publications, and their mailing and invite lists. This sad state of affairs has extended to ADRI not being willing to collaborate, or be inclusive in any shape or form with the Foundation.
“Given the situation is totally of the making of decision makers at ADRI, and totally of their own volition, is it morally right or appropriate, that on one hand they totally disrespect Karen Banton, and hence the late Bernie Banton and the foundation she established in his name, by demonstratively shunning both Karen and the Bernie Banton Foundation for over six years, yet on the other hand, have the audacity to use Bernie’s good name and image to create a false impression of association or endorsement – an association, through their own volition and making, that simply does not exist?”
Throughout this incomprehensible period, that has been the status quo since October 2010, the Foundation has taken the high road, electing for the good of the cause to turn the other cheek, endeavouring to be inclusive, and to collaborate with the ADRI. Every magnanimous gesture put forth by the Foundation to normalise relations with ADRI has been rebutted – without a credible (if any at all) reason being offered.
Karen Banton and the Bernie Banton Foundation have always maintained open lines of communications for both Prof van Zandwijk and the ADRI to discuss this situation – a situation of their making; a situation that only they know what it is about; a situation they have proliferated for over 6 years; a situation that shows uncaring disrespect for, and unbelievable callousness towards, Karen Banton, and as such disrespects the late Bernie Banton AM and his name; and a situation that shows disrespect for the Bernie Banton Foundation and all those involved with, and whom support the Bernie Banton Foundation!
Bernie Banton AM went to the Lord with peace in his heart, believing his ‘darling’ (Karen) would be looked after, and ADRI, under the tutelage of Prof van Zandwijk, would prosper and become a world leader in researching asbestos-related diseases to find a cure.
What do you think Bernie Banton AM would be making of, and saying about the conduct of those involved at ADRI, if he were alive today?
WORKING IN COLLABORATION
The Bernie Banton Foundation has an inclusive open door policy towards all creditable organisations conducting research into asbestos-related disease; and those who offer genuine support to asbestos disease sufferers and their loved ones; and as such works closely with many organisations across Australia and internationally.
Furthering the Foundation’s connection to asbestos disease research is the prestigious Bernie Banton Fellowship, awarded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) as an annual Fellowship to commemorate the life of Bernie Banton through supporting health and medical research related to mesothelioma.
In the inaugural ADRI Annual Report [Director’s Report] published in 2009, Prof van Zandwijk stated:
“Before his death in 2007 Bernie Banton recommended that “we must join forces in our battle against asbestos-related disease”. ‘Join forces to remove the dark cloud hanging over Australia caused by asbestos’ was immortalized and has become the motto for the Bernie Banton Centre and the ADRI in particular.”
Prof van Zandwijk followed on with more rhetoric in 2014 and 2015:
‘Our organisation is so much aware of the importance of effective communication between a disease-oriented research institute and the victim and their families.’ – 2014 ADRI Annual Report [Director’s Report]
‘The importance of good relations with victims support groups cannot be emphasised enough.’ – 2015 Annual Report [Director’s report]
Hollow, sterile rhetoric indeed, considering Prof van Zandwijk and ADRI, as an entity severed relations (with no tangible explanation ever given – even though sought on repeated occasions since) with the Foundation in 2010.
What a shame such promising words first expressed in 2009 never eventuated into actuality with Prof van Zandwijk, and other prominent ADRI stakeholders, seemingly going out of their way to ensure this has not been the case with the Bernie Banton Foundation since 2010.
The Bernie Banton Foundation has throughout sought to collaborate and work in closely with ADRI – it is entirely ADRI’s doing that this has not happened.
It is inconceivable to all at the Bernie Banton Foundation, that those responsible at ADRI do not embrace the opportunity of being united in common cause with the only Sydney based asbestos disease support organisation, that is authorised to operate nationally.
With the exciting appointment of Prof Ken Takahashi as ADRI’s new Director, having commenced on 1 February 2017, we are hopeful ADRI will adopt a more inclusive and open doctrine. With the dawning of a new era at ADRI, we are confident the relationship between ADRI and the Foundation will be restored to what the late Bernie Banton AM would have liked to believe it would be, and what it should be. Prof Takahashi has an unenviable job ahead of him, should he see a need, and wishes to change the ingrained institutional status quo at ADRI.
The Foundation offers Prof Takahashi any support it can give in this endeavour, should he deem it desirable and possible – we truly hope this is the case!
ABOUT BERNIE BANTON AM and THE BERNIE BANTON CENTRE
Extracts from a press release issued 21/01/2009 by the NSW Premiers office entitled: Banton Centre Opening
New $12 million Bernie Banton Centre opens to fight asbestos related diseases January 21 2009
Premier of NSW Nathan Rees today joined the Acting Governor Professor Marie Bashir and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to open the world’s first stand-alone research facility dedicated to improving the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of asbestos related disease.
The Centre is named in honour of Australia’s foremost campaigner in the fight to raise awareness about dust diseases, Bernie Banton AM.
Mr Rees said naming the new facility the Bernie Banton Centre was a fitting tribute to a remarkable man.
“Bernie was a champion,” Mr Rees said. “His courage and conviction continue to be an inspiration to us all. He was a determined fighter for justice for asbestos victims and their families despite the fact that he was suffering himself with the terrible asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.”
“The Bernie Banton Centre is a fitting monument and token of national gratitude for his personal sacrifice and contributions to the struggle to bring justice to those affected by asbestos-related disease.”
If you, or a loved one has been diagnosed
with an ASBESTOS RELATED DISEASE and you would like to talk to somebody who knows what it feels like to be in similar circumstances to what you are in, whether you are a sufferer or carer, please phone the Foundation’s 24/7 Support Helpline Freecall® number: 1800 031 731
Note: The Bernie Banton Foundation is not accredited to provide advice. The information and/or advice provided is for assistance only. The advice of a qualified specialist should always be sought before making legal or medical decisions.