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  • intouch Magazine

What makes it Local

This month, Intouch Magazine asked Simon Ashley of ATUNE Health to share his thoughts on what it means to be local.


For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for seeing individuals and communities discover the truth about their health and wellbeing. This has led me all over the world where I was privileged to work in a Palestinian refugee camp, war-torn Iraq and among the less fortunate in Los Angeles.

Little did I know that moving to the Hunter 20 years ago would present opportunities that came with being local. That opportunity led me to establish a home for a growing family and a home for more than 100 health professionals and 30,000 people in this region.

I came to the Hunter as an osteopath in 2000 after graduating from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology with a double degree in Clinical Science and Clinical Osteopathy. My aforementioned travels and a sudden acute health issue generated a passion for providing the local community with integrated health care. In 2006, in the front room of our house in Eleebana, I took the first step and ATUNE Health Centres was born.

This region continues to provide itself as a place to innovate and collaborate. We discovered how powerful this was while constructing a $10 million integrated health centre. While the centre itself is a shining example of individuals coming together for better outcomes, the 10-year process from purchase to completion is equally reflective of what I think it means to be local.

Local is not about being locally positioned but locally constructed and built. My wife Melanie and I are fortunate to raise our four children, Grace, Zachary, Esther and Joshua in a community that gets it.

As a family, we are committed to finding ways to work with local people, to support our local community excel and lead, not because we have to, but because we want to.

I believe that local is also about generating legacy – moving beyond what is happening right now and thinking about how that will look for our kids and their kids.

Despite all that is challenging in our world right now, there are still plenty of local people who, like me, believe that the greater Newcastle and Hunter region is the perfect place to build and construct community infrastructure not just for now but also for our future.

The Ashley family and the ATUNE family have come out of, rather than being planted into a community – which is what I think makes us genuinely local.

We welcome letters to the editor – if you have a community minded opinion and would like to share, please email

Pictured top: Front: Joshua & Esther. Middle: Simon & Melanie. Back: Grace & Zachary.

Below: Simon & Melanie

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