Asbestos campaigners celebrated on Monday after an Australian woman who died of mesothelioma was posthumously awarded 550,000 Australian dollars (£270,000) in compensation based on her claim that 20 years of washing asbestos-laden clothes had given her the cancer.

Sydney resident Margaret Dawson, who lost her battle with mesothelioma eight months ago, spent more than two decades washing the asbestos-contaminated clothes of her father and husband

They both worked for James Hardie Industries, once Australia’s largest asbestos maker.
Mrs Dawson took the company to court in 2007, claiming that her exposure to the carcinogen had led to her disease.

After her death, Mrs Dawson’s claim for compensation was continued by her family – not just for herself as a victim but for loss of unpaid earnings as a carer of her grandchildren.
A New South Wales state tribunal awarded Mrs Dawson the money last week in her lawsuit against the firm.

The payout included AU$200,000 (£98,000) for her unpaid work looking after her grandchildren, paving the way for other care workers to seek compensation.

Asbestos Diseases Foundation spokesman Barry Robson hailed the ruling as ‘a real legacy.
‘She has now opened the way for wives and mothers to do a compensation claim,’ Mr Robson observed, adding: ‘I hope this is the opening for other carers to get compensation.’

Mrs Dawson’s daughter Corina Novek said: ‘James Hardie have fought us tooth and nail all the way through and mum never ever got to see any victory against them at all.’

Ms Novek added: ‘She died before hearing any kind of news from them, which is really upsetting from my point of view.’