Newcastle LGA is a 182.6 square kilometres area, located in the Hunter region of New South Wales, 160 kilometres north of Sydney. It stretches from Port Stephens in the north to Lake Macquarie in the south (ABS 2006). In 2003, the ABS estimated the population in the Newcastle LGA to be 144 273, approximately a 3 per cent increase on the 2000 estimate. The population density as of June 2004 was 797.6 per square kilometre, compared with only 8.4 persons per square kilometre for New South Wales.11
The unemployment rate in 2003 was 7.9 per cent, compared with 6 percent for New South Wales, and 43 715 people were receiving income support12
(30.3% of total population) compared with 22.2 per cent for New South Wales (ABS 2006). The average taxable income in this area in 2003 was $40 505, slightly lower than the state average of $43 649. These indices suggest that Newcastle LGA, a regional centre in New South Wales, is an area of relative disadvantage.