Cahma exists to promote the health & human rights of people who use drugs and people who use drug treatment services.

What we do

We believe that people who use drugs should be treated with dignity and respect, both as human beings and as consumers of health and social services. CAHMA works to reduce the discrimination and stigma experienced by drug users. CAHMA also speaks for our communities equal rights by progressing drug law reform agendas.

The Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy (CAHMA) is the drug user organisation and alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) consumer organisation for the Australian Capital Territory. CAHMA is a not for profit Incorporated Association. CAHMA is recognised as part of the ACT specialist drug treatment organisations and conducts peer based drug treatment from our drop-in community centre.

Programming includes the CAHMA Peer Treatment Support Program, The Connection Aboriginal Program, The CAHMA Naloxone Program, CAHMA’s Community Development and Mentoring Program, The Fix Peer Education Program, News From the Drug War Front radio show, The Reach, Teach, Treat Hepatitis C Peer Education and Treatment Project in partnership with Hepatitis ACT and The CAHMA Primary Health Clinic. The CAHMA Clinic is an in-reach partnership with Directions Health Services which provides an onsite doctor and nurse at the CAHMA Community Centre who do general practitioner work, pharmacotherapy provision including methadone, suboxone and Buvidal (depot buprenorphine) treatment and Hepatitis B vaccination, Hepatitis C testing and treatment.

CAHMA is a unique service within the ACT, which operates on a peer based, person centred philosophy, which means we encourage and support people to speak on their own behalf and to participate directly in improving their lives.

Self-stigmatisation is a means by which people who use drugs are constantly kept in a state of self imposed alienation from broader society; this is something which CAHMA is continually attempting to address through education and community development initiatives designed to engender a sense of self worth and of community inclusiveness and integration. As a peer based group we have a first-hand knowledge and understanding of the issues encountered by people who use illicit (and other) drugs. Under the ‘CAHMA Services’ tab above, you can read about some of the activities we do to make the most of this understanding in our efforts to make the lives of drug users safer, healthier and happier. We do this through providing peer support, education, representation and advocacy. We promote improved health for drug users and, through the provision of education and information, seek to reduce harms associated with illicit, injecting and other drug use. By representing drug users on decision making committees, we provide a drug user perspective and voice in the development of policies and programs that impact on the lives and health of illicit drug users.

CAHMA provides information on Alcohol and Other Drug Services, as well as various other government and community services. We can assist in accessing the most relevant service for your needs, can provide referral to any service you may require and will advocate for you where necessary.

Financial Reports 2021

CAHMA Constitution

Lodge Formal Complaint

Become a Member

Cahma Leadership

Chris Gough

Executive Director

David Baxter

Naloxone Program Leader

Natasa Nikolic

Operations Manager

Mitchell Lamb

Administration and Communications Coordinator

Cahma Partners

Partnership with other organisations is a very important part of the work that CAHMA conducts. CAHMA sees partnership as essential because it brings together people with different skillsets and different scopes of practice to provide greater integration of services for our clients and a greater set of ideas, perspectives, referral pathways and treatment options. CAHMA is proud of the partnerships that we have created in the ACT and across Australia.

In addition to partners that we work with, CAHMA is also a member of many different peak organisations, consortiums, campaigns and interest groups.

CAHMA is proud to be a member of the following organisations, consortiums, campaigns, groups

Australian Illicit and Injecting Drug Users League (AIVL)

CAHMA is part of the AIVL national network of drug user organisations and represents drug users from the ACT through this network. CAHMA is a tier 1 member of AIVL and plays an active part in ensuring that people who use drugs in the ACT’s voice is heard at a national level, as well as ensuring that jurisdictional issues that affect PWUD in the ACT are recognized. AIVL is CAHMA’s peak body in CAHMA’s role as a drug user activist organization.

Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association of the ACT (ATODA)

CAHMA is an active member of ATODA and works very closely with ATODA and the other ACT specialist ATOD organisations. Within the ATODA network, CAHMA represents people who use drugs and people who access drug treatment services. CAHMA plays an active role in ensuring that ACT ATOD services are person centred and consumer friendly. CAHMA attends ATODA’s Executive Group and ATODA’s Workers Group meetings to ensure that the voice of consumers is heard clearly.

ACT Council of Social Services (ACTCOSS)

Interchange Health Co-op is a not-for-profit charity based in Tuggeranong. Interchange Health Co-ops provides non-judgemental top quality healthcare to a large number of vulnerable patients. The practice has special interests in Drug and Alcohol, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Chronic health conditions and Mental health. Interchange is the largest non-Government OMT prescribing service.

Pill Testing Australia

CAHMA is a member of the Pill Testing Australia (PTA) consortium. Pill Testing Australia (PTA) is a consortium of organisations and individuals that conduct laboratory grade, front of house pill testing integrated with health professional consultations. CAHMA firmly believes in pill testing and other drug checking models as a proven harm reduction intervention.

Harm Reduction Australia (HRA)

Harm Reduction Australia (HRA) is a national organisation for individuals committed to reducing the health, social and economic harms potentially associated with drug use.

Uniting Fair Treatment Campaign

CAHMA is an active member in Uniting’s push to decriminalize personal drug use and end the stigma and discrimination that PWUD face in society. CAHMA has participated in the ACT Drug Policy Series and the Million Steps to Treatment campaign and continues to support this profound initiative

Directions Healthcare Services

CAHMA partners with Directions Health Services by providing peer based knowledge and expertise in partnership with Directions clinical expertise. In particular:

CAHMA peer treatment support workers host BBQ’s at Directions PAT Van Outreach throughout the week
CAHMA also provides Directions with Naloxone Packs for brief interventions.

Hepatitis ACT

Hepatitis ACT is the capital region’s community hepatitis organisation. Hepatitis ACT are funded by ACT Health to deliver a comprehensive range of hepatitis related information, education, training, advocacy, policy, preventative and referral services. Hepatitis ACT aim to reduce transmission, and the associated morbidity and mortality, and to minimise the personal and social impacts.

Interchange Health Co-operative

Interchange Health Co-op is a not-for-profit charity based in Tuggeranong. Interchange Health Co-ops provides non-judgemental top quality healthcare to a large number of vulnerable patients. The practice has special interests in Drug and Alcohol, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Chronic health conditions and Mental health. Interchange is the largest non-Government OMT prescribing service.