Nicole Pietsch

Nicole is the Communications and Health Promotion Officer at the Mental Health Association of Central Australia. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree (Communications Studies) and Certificate 4 in Community Services. She has more than 20 years experience in communications and community engagement. She has a passion for mental health promotion and has lived experience as a carer. She has lived in Alice Springs with her family for 15 years and enjoys its unique environment, culture and community.



Abstract title: Healthy Bodies Support Healthy Minds – Equally Well in a Remote Context

Author(s): Nicole Pietsch, Mental Health Association of Central Australia

Introduction: The Mental Health Association of Central Australia (MHACA) is a community managed organisation that provides psychosocial support services, NDIS services, tenancy support, suicide prevention and health promotion programs.

MHACA provides services to participants who predominantly have severe and complex mental health conditions. More than 50% identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Many have chronic health issues, experience homelessness and are considered vulnerable within the community.

MHACA became a signatory to the Equally Well Consensus Statement in 2020. MHACA’s presentation demonstrates how an organisation in a remote context can convert policy into practice, working in partnership with consumers and community services.

Method: Whilst MHACA already has a focus on activities that support participant physical wellbeing, the Consensus Statement provides the opportunity to do better.

The Statement is a significant policy document that has many principles to adopt. Rather than feel it is ‘too hard’, MHACA has assessed the principles and identified what is the most feasible in the short to medium term. MHACA has invested in staff health promotion training and has developed the Healthy Bodies Support Healthy Minds (HBSHM) Strategy which provides a whole of organisation approach and builds on community partnerships.  It includes:

  • Introduction of a Health Prompt
  • Development of a Healthy Eating Policy
  • Educational campaign on smoking cessation
  • Ongoing exercise activities
  • Educational campaign on oral health

Results and Findings: Whilst the implementation of the strategy is in early days, MHACA has been providing introductory activities to participants including a participant pamper day, exercise activities, healthy lunches and smoking cessation education which have been well received. Next steps include working with NAEMI National and participants to develop the Health Prompt.

Discussion: MHACA believes that by sharing our approach to implementing Equally Well principles in a remote context, other organisations will be encouraged to take action.

Nicole Pietsch