Our Community

Banner artwork by Thomas Croft, a Barngarla man: ‘Caring for Communities’ (2020)

Calvary Mater Newcastle Community Profile

The City of Newcastle has an estimated resident population of 165,571, with a population density of 8.86 persons per hectare. The City of Newcastle is located in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, about 160 kilometres north of Sydney. Calvary Mater Newcastle provides a range of public health services to the Hunter, New England, and Mid North Coast regions of NSW. Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD), has a resident population of 875,000 people including 52,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which equates to 5.7% of the HNELHD population. Overall, the population is experiencing rapid growth and aging, although several local areas are experiencing depopulation.

Health outcomes for individuals are the result of complex interactions between biological, social and cultural factors which shape people’s lives. These factors can operate as both barriers and enablers to health, social and emotional wellbeing.

The indicators of socio-economic disadvantage or stressors in the HNELHD are higher overall in nearly all categories than the NSW and Australian averages. This combined with low levels of health literacy is a major challenge in working towards better health outcomes for clients from vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.

Health research priorities for Newcastle include:

  1. Consumer participation in research
  2. Development of models to coordinate care between primary and acute health service
  3. Implementation of more efficient and cost-effective healthcare

Why is demographic data important in research?

Demographics comprise of an array of socioeconomic information, including the breakdown of the population by gender, age, ethnicity, income, employment status, home ownership, and internet access. Demographic data offers a generalisation of the population, based on the sampling of people within that geography. Demographics capture a snapshot in time, but by examining data at different points in time, you can see historical changes, such as whether the population is aging or new people are moving into the community.

Details of Newcastle’s demographic profile can be obtained from the Community ProfileSocial Atlas and Population Forecast, who provide comprehensive information on the Newcastle Local Government Area (LGA).

  • The Community Profile enables analysis of population characteristics for Newcastle and suburbs; and includes historical data to show how this has changed over time.
  • The Social Atlas presents data as a series of thematic maps that show how particular population groups are distributed across Newcastle. The source of the data is from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing.
  • The Population Forecast presents population and household forecasts to show what is driving population change in the community, and how the population, age structure, and household types change each year. You can register your contact details and be notified when new data and features have been added to the forecast.
  • The Primary Health Network Hunter New England and Central Coast has created a range of resources to assist with health service planning and commissioning activities. The resources include regional profiles, Aboriginal health profile and older persons health profile.

Click on thumbnail to view map.

Margaret Whitson
Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer

The hospital recognises that a culturally respectful and responsive health system is essential to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal people and every employee of the NSW Health system has a valuable role to play. Calvary Mater Newcastle, in conjunction with the NSW Aboriginal Health Impact Statement forms part of a broader set of strategies to achieve Closing the Gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

Our purpose is consistent with our values of Hospitality, Healing, Stewardship and Respect, Calvary is committed to providing quality care related to the health needs and interests of Aboriginal people in the development of new and revised health policies, programs and strategies.

Our research priority is to promote and support research that focuses on improving the health and well-being of Aboriginal people. We are committed to developing and implementing new strategies focussed on increasing Indigenous research and ensuring that all Indigenous research is conducted in a culturally safe way and collaboratively with the Aboriginal community.

Our focus areas for Indigenous research are:

  • Cancer care
  • Palliative care
  • Chronic disease
  • Mental health and suicide prevention
  • Social determinants of health

HNE Aboriginal Health Unit

The HNELHD Aboriginal Health Unit works with all health services, Aboriginal community controlled health services, primary health networks and other key stakeholders from local, state and federal organisations. HNE Health workforce encompasses Aboriginal health workers, clinical and program staff and management. Some of these staff are based within the Aboriginal Health Unit. Calvary Mater Newcastle is in a collaborative partnership with the HNE Aboriginal Health Unit.

If researcher’s would like more information in relation to Aboriginal health at Calvary Mater Newcastle please contact Margaret Whitson, our Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer. If you would like more information about the district wide services then please contact [email protected]

Human Research Ethics

Researchers should be aware of the NHMC guidelines for research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research and the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research provide specific information about ethical conduct in research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities. They should also be read alongside the Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies 2012, developed by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).

The Guidelines Framework shows how all of the relevant research guidelines in Australia are linked and provide the framework for how researchers and participants should be working together on research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities. Adherence to these guidelines will be a requirement of the NHMRC funding agreement.

Researchers need to take the time to develop their application and ensure that it is consistent with all necessary guidelines. Ensuring that there is engagement with Aboriginal people from an early stage in the project design will assist with the cultural aspects of an application. As well as submission to an accredited HREC, research proposals involving Aboriginal people must also seek approval from the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council Research Ethics Committee. For guidance on this process please review the AH&MRC Ethical Guidelines: Key Principles (2020).

Other useful Links

Lyndal Moore
Clinical Nurse Consultant,
Adolescent and Young Adults
with Cancer,
Youth Cancer Network

The Hunter and Northern NSW Youth Cancer Service works across Calvary Mater Newcastle, in Waratah and John Hunter Hospital, in New Lambton Heights, Newcastle. The service sees young people (aged 15-25 years) with cancer from Newcastle, the Hunter New England region, the North Coast and Northern NSW.

Young adults are more likely than either younger children or older adults to be diagnosed with certain cancers, such as Hodgkin lymphoma, testicular cancer, and sarcomas. However, the incidence of specific cancer types varies according to age. Leukaemia, lymphoma, testicular cancer, and thyroid cancer are the most common cancers among 15 to 24-year-olds. Among 25 to 39-year-olds, breast cancer and melanoma are the most common.

Adolescent and young adult patients have unique and complex needs; therefore a cancer diagnosis adds new challenges for young people and their families. It is internationally recognised that when a young person is treated in a hospital with specialists who are experts in their cancer type, their chance of survival is significantly improved.

Our research priority is to develop and implement a strategic approach to increasing research and clinical trials in AYA patients, and explore new opportunities for conducting collaborative research and increasing research translation into clinical practice.

Priority research areas include:

  • Allied health care in treating young people with cancer
  • Service redesign, cancer care coordination and multidisciplinary teams
  • Psycho-oncology for young people
  • Access to clinical trials
  • Exploring youth-friendly environments

For more information on the Youth Cancer Service click on the link below.

Useful Links

Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD) covers a region of 131,785 square kilometres. It encompasses a major metropolitan centre, some regional communities, and a small percentage of people located in remote communities. The estimated resident population is 920,370* people. Overall, the population is experiencing rapid growth and ageing, although several local areas are experiencing depopulation. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 5.9* per cent of the population. A key priority for HNELHD is to improve the health outcomes for people living in rural areas. Improvements have been achieved in rural health services by building collaborations with partner health services and organisations in order to share expertise and skills. Calvary Mater Newcastle is actively involved in the strategic and clinical planning for Regional Cancer Services, which enables continued improvements to cancer services and infrastructure. Recent reports estimate the incidence of all new cancers across the HNELHD as 680 per 100,000 persons, with this figure increasing by 2.2% annually.

*Source: ABS 2016 estimates Healthstats, NSW Ministry of Health

Hunter New England Local Health District


In the Hunter New England Local Health District, clinical trials are run through dedicated clinical trial units (CTUs) spaning multiple specialities, public and private institutions, metro and regional sites. Calvary Mater Newcastle promotes and supports a strong portfolio of cancer clinical trials in the Hunter New England region that best meet the needs of people affected by cancer.

Calvary Mater Newcastle supports eight clinical trials units who work synergistically to ensure the highest quality clinical trials are facilitated throughout the LHD. These are:

  • Medical Oncology Research Trials Unit – Calvary Mater Newcastle
  • Radiation Oncology Trials Unit – Calvary Mater Newcastle
  • Haematology Trials Unit – Calvary Mater Newcastle
  • Surgical Oncology Trials Unit – John Hunter Hospital
  • Paediatric Oncology Trials Unit – John Hunter Children’s Hospital
  • North West Cancer Centre – Tamworth
  • Hunter Cancer Centre Clinical Trials Unit – Lake Macquarie Private
  • Newcastle Private Oncology Trials Unit – Newcastle Private Hospital

Eleanor Benge
Multicultural Liaison Officer

At Calvary Mater Newcastle we are committed to meeting the health needs of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) consumers. We aim to ensure that people of CALD backgrounds have equitable access to health care services that are culturally responsive, safe and high quality.

Our research strategy is to improve health research and participation in clinical trials with vulnerable groups; in particular respecting and making provision for the culture and language of others in the research that we do.

It is important that researchers are aware of the needs of the CALD community. When conducting research with CALD consumers, we recommend that you consider:

  • Awareness of culturally diverse contexts
    Consider the needs of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, equity of access to health care services, and available resources.
  • Multicultural Health orientation
    Ensure that you obtain skills in delivering appropriate interventions to clients who come from CALD backgrounds and deaf clients. Be aware of any policy requirements, provide professional interpreters and engage with the HNELHD Multicultural Health Services.
  • Use health care interpreters
    Assess the need for an interpreter, understand the risks in using family to interpret, consider face-to-face communication with interpreters versus telephone interpreting.
  • Engage with carers from CALD backgrounds
    Mental health research is particularly sensitive and there needs to be an appreciation for cultural and religious backgrounds. Be aware of and use the pyramid of family care when conducting mental health research for patients from a CALD background.

HNE Multicultural Health Service includes:

  1. Multicultural Health Liaison Programs
  2. Health Care Interpreter Service
  3. Refugee Health Service

For more information on the NSW Health policy for Healthy Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities please click here.

Unconscious bias and implicit bias

We recommend that researchers become culturally competent and familiarise themselves with a Cultural Competency Program.

The SBS has developed a cultural competency program aimed at improving cross cultural communication, addressing stereotypes, unconscious bias and diversity.

In this TEDx talk, Helen Turnbull explains how we can recognise these biases and promote global diversity and inclusivity.

Regardless of how fair minded we believe ourselves to be, most people have some degree of unconscious bias. The means that we automatically respond to others (e.g. people from different racial or ethnic groups) in positive or negative ways. These associations are difficult to override because they are deeply ingrained into our thinking and emotions. For researchers, making biased decisions can affect the recruitment and selection of research participants, and can affect the ability of research staff and students to achieve their full potential.

Implicit bias, on the other hand, comprises those views and opinions that we may not be aware of. People are unable to control and manage their implicit attitudes and biases and cannot easily hide them in the same way as their explicit biases. Understanding implicit bias – what causes it, how it impacts decision making and what can be done to moderate it – is important in narrowing of the gap between the ideals we aspire to and our reality.

Test yourself!

You can test your own implicit biases through Project Implicit, a non-profit organisation and international collaborative network of researchers investigating implicit social cognition.

Support Us.
Support You.

Find Out How