Concord Repatriation General Hospital
Concord, NSW, 2139
Named for the courageous social justice campaigner Bernie Banton, who contracted mesothelioma while working with asbestos materials during his employment at Jamie Hardie, the Bernie Banton Centre is housed at the Concord Repatriation General Hospital (CRGH), also known as Concord Hospital, in Sydney, Australia.
Construction for the Bernie Banton Centre began in November 2007, just a few days after the former lathe operator’s untimely death from the asbestos cancer known as mesothelioma. Banton also suffered from asbestosis and asbestos-related pleural disease. He was, for many Australians, the face of asbestos disease as he battled his former employer for compensation, then turned his attention to fighting for damages and pharmaceutical research for other sufferers.
Also known as the Asbestos Disease Research Institute, the primary purpose of the Banton Centre is to research, provide prevention initiatives, and offer education about asbestos-related diseases in Australia and throughout the Asian region. This facility is one of the first research facility dedicated to the diseases that are caused by the toxic mineral material.
The necessity for the Banton Centre is unfortunate, but undeniable; it is estimated that there will be a total of 13,000 cases of mesothelioma, and an additional 40,000 cases of other asbestos diseases, in Australia by 2020. Since mesothelioma and asbestosis cases generally take up to 20-50 years to fully develop and be diagnosed, the numbers of this occupational disease have yet to peak.
Opening the Centre was a joint effort of the New South Wales government and the ANZAC Research Institute at Concord Hospital in Sydney. The work that is done there is also complemented by the ongoing efforts of the National Research Centre for Asbestos-Related Diseases (NRCARD), which connects 11 separate research facilities across Australia. Additionally, the Banton Centre will collaborate with the forthcoming Centre of Research Excellence into Asbestos-Related Diseases, which will host world-class research beginning in 2010, thanks to $2.5 million (AU) in federal funds.
Banton was treated for his asbestos-related diseases at the Concord Hospital, and the opening of the Banton Centre was considered a boon to research initiatives on the hospital’s campus.