‘Queen of population health’ Christine Newman retires after 45 years – thepulse.org.au
“Among the reasons we love her – this woman is real; she is grounded and trustworthy, zealously respected.
This is just one of 33 fun and complementary lines in the incredible farewell poem written for Christine Newman, outgoing Deputy Director for Population Health at Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD).
Christine is a beloved colleague with an impressive career spanning five decades in healthcare – highlights of which include making our roads, hospital grounds and medicine containers safer.
She dedicated nearly 20 years of that career to population health, earning the title “queen of population health” from her colleague and poetry writer Belinda Duckworth of the health promotion team.
Other areas of interest have included injury prevention and monitoring, domestic violence advocacy, gynecology, cardiology and endocrinology.
Christine’s career began in 1975 as a medical receptionist at Northern Beaches in Sydney. As a registered nurse she spent time in Scotland and England, and within two years of returning to Australia joined the emergency department team at Westmead Hospital. Since then she has been working in Western Sydney.
One of Christine’s fondest memories is the end of her nursing training and the ceremony that surrounded it.
It was the most amazing thing; there was so much pomp about it – the veil, the certificate, tossing your training hat and stomping it to the floor, the ball thrown from the previous year; it was so special,” she recalls.
In early 2000, Christine received a Masters in Public Administration scholarship from the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office, giving her the opportunity to learn how to work in government and move away from silos. She cites this as a highlight that has provided her with the contacts, tools and knowledge to really help her drive innovation and change in health and other organizations.
Christine’s career highlights are not only her professional accomplishments of which she is most proud, but are also legacies of the WSLHD.
She implemented ER injury surveillance across the WSLHD, a first in Australia. The data collected has provided vital information to various government departments, helping to make key changes such as reducing speed limits on roads in New South Wales and adding extra safety precautions to methadone containers.
Christine also led one of the country’s first pilot projects for Australia’s Western Sydney Early Development Census, which is now a national initiative used to provide insight into child development to inform communities and support planning, policy and action.
Other projects of note include the implementation of Labor Development Orders with legal aid, which to date helps support disadvantaged people, and the promotion of the implementation of anti-tobacco policies throughout the district.
Throughout her many roles, Christine ensured that the community was at the center of everything she did, because “at the heart of it all, it’s people that matter.” This has been especially true throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Christine is the engine room of the Center and it has never been more visible than in the past two years,” said Shopna Bag, Acting Director of Population Health WSLHD.
“It is through his dedication, tireless support and fearless leadership that we have been able to weather the storms to get to where we are today.
“With staff coming from all over the district to join the Center for Population Health, feedback was unanimous that they valued the team culture, our teamwork and felt it was one of the best teams in which they had worked.
“It is at the heart of his legacy and his contributions to the Centre’s success and achievements are immeasurable.”
Christine said she will miss WSLHD for her willingness to take measured risks and work in a supportive and exciting environment. He will also miss his partnerships with various government agencies and his “incredible” health promotion team.
The feeling is mutual, Michelle Nolan, acting head of health promotion, said:
“Christine taught us what makes a great leader and gave us so much to aspire to.
“His real, approachable, honest and compassionate approach to our work and our team is appreciated by all of us.”
Happy retirement Christine!