The Connection

About The Connection

The Connection is a peer based service, run by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The service focuses on the needs of the Indigenous community in the ACT. The Connection aims to empower people to gain control of their health and wellbeing by providing culturally secure peer treatment support and case management services. Additionally, The Connection runs Indigenous groups focusing on consulting with local community and helping address identified needs. The Connection runs across all programs of CAHMA ensuring local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access culturally safe and secure services within CAHMA and the healthcare sector.



The Connection was born of community need in the early 2000’s when Indigenous people who use drugs got together and decided we needed a safe place to discuss issues that affected our community. Under the guidance of John Van Dugan, the first Manager of The Connection, the service grew to having 9 staff and operated groups in Bunberry Youth Detention centre. John Van Dugan went on to win the ACT Young Australian of the Year Award for his work on The Connection is 2006.

The Connection is now an integral part of CAHMA’s service provision offering and is the only peer based Indigenous drug user organisation in Australia.

Indigenous Groups

The Mura Gadi groups is a peer education group run by and for Indigenous people. Mura Gadi means pathway of searching in the Ngunnawal language. This group provides a culturally safe environment in which community members can forge positive connections with others within the Aboriginal community and stay connected with mob. Together the group guides members along the path to their own personal journey of health and wellbeing and the achievement of their long term goals and objectives.

Jude Byrne Support Group

Jude Byrne was a pioneer in grassroots support for Alcohol and Other Drug issues affecting women. Years on, after her tragic passing CAHMA continues to honour her work in the sector and carry on her legacy through The Connections Jude Byrne Support Group.

This support Group focuses on supporting women with AOD issues, specifically helping advocate for women with CYPS and DCJ issues surrounding their drug use.

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