Insider: Karen Banton

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Ambassador: Rod Smith and Karen Banton, who both lost spouses to asbestos-related diseases. Picture: Jamila Toderas

Ambassador: Rod Smith and Karen Banton, who both lost spouses to asbestos-related diseases. Picture: Jamila Toderas

Bernie Banton Foundation founder Karen Banton has been named this year’s Fairfield Council Australia Day ambassador.

Mrs Banton is a strong advocate on behalf of asbestos disease sufferers and their families.

She is also continuing the legacy left by her late husband Bernie Banton.

Mr Banton was widely recognised as the public face of the legal and political campaign fought in Australia from the early 2000s until 2007.

His aim was to achieve a binding agreement with James Hardie Industries for a long-term compensation fund for the sufferers of asbestos-related diseases after they were exposed to products made by the company that contained asbestos

A Fairfield Council spokeswoman said Mrs Banton cared for Mr Banton as he suffered pleural plaques, asbestos-related pleural disease and asbestosis, as well as nursing him after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2007.

“Bernie lost his battle, dying at home on November 27, 2007,” she said.

“In 2009 Karen, together with a number of supporters, founded the Bernie Banton Foundation.

“Its primary aims are to raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos and advocate for the rights of asbestos-related disease sufferers and the general community.”

Last year’s Fairfield Council Australia Day ambassador was Shane Heal, a former captain of the Australian Boomers basketball team.

Interview with Karen Banton: