About Us

Our Organisation

Directions services are based on a harm minimisation approach. Services are provided in a non-judgemental and respectful manner that recognises:

  • Different stages of recovery;

  • Individual goals of people regarding substance use; and

  • Impacts of substance use on friends and family

Our therapeutic approach is person centred, holistic and strengths based.

Our Aims

Directions regards access to health and related services as a fundamental human right. We aim to promote and maximise the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities affected by alcohol, tobacco and other drug related harms, inclusive of improving health, social and economic outcomes.

Our Vision

A compassionate society that takes an informed, health-first approach to alcohol and other drug use.

Our Purpose

To empower individuals, families and communities by working in partnership, without judgement, to maximise health and wellbeing.

Our Values

Our History

In October 1977, a comprehensive drug referral and information centre (DRIC) was set up at the Canberra College of Technical and Further Education in Reid. The service was run by Sister Patricia Moriarty of the Order of Little Company of Mary, who arrived in Canberra in May 1977. DRIC was created in response to a lack of support services for those affected by Canberra’s burgeoning heroin problem and was available to the ACT community as well as students at the College. An extension of the College’s counselling unit was later expanded considerably by Sister Moriarty. Sister Moriarty liaised with institutions concerned with helping people with drug dependence, stressed the negative impacts of advertising and the media and the importance of drug awareness and education in the community. On her retirement, the Little Company of Mary relinquished control of DRIC and it became a community run organisation.

Thereafter, the organisation underwent several name changes and became an Incorporated Association in 1988 under the legal name of Assisting Drug Dependents Incorporated. In 1989, the organisation was funded to provide the first Needle and Syringe Program (NSP) in the ACT, which it has continued to run to the present day. This important harm reduction service contributes to the low rates of blood borne virus transmissions amongst the people who inject drugs in Canberra.

Also during this period, the organisation provided a sobering up shelter which was run in a house on the Duntroon campus. The shelter was run for many years until an improved facility was provided through the Hennessy House Mental Health Facility, on the grounds of the North Canberra Hospital (prev. Calvary Hospital) in Bruce. The 10 bed residential detox centre became known as Arcadia House.

Up until approximately 2001, the organisation did not have a recognisable identity other than individual program names with generic lettering and images used on entrance doors and letterheads. At this time, the organisation experienced its first attempt at rebranding, with the new trading name Directions ACT.

In July 2005 Directions was registered as a Charity and a Public Benevolent Institution endorsing the organisation with Charity tax concessions such as income tax exemption, GST concessions as well as FBT concessions and deductible gift recipient (DGR) status.

Directions added new programs over the following years; in response to community demand, including Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug (ATOD) counselling, case management and a primary health clinic, Althea Wellness Centre, which was inaugurated in 2009.

Directions expansion outside ACT began in 2015, with the inaugural establishment of Pathways NSW programs in the Goulburn region, funded by NSW Government. In the same year, Directions business name was registered as Directions Health Services, removing ACT from its name to reflect the organisation was no longer ACT centric. Directions first regional services were established based on an innovative intensive case management model designed to respond to people impacted by crystal methamphetamine use. Directions expansion of Pathways services continued into the Murrumbidgee region later that year, followed by new sites and programs in the Monaro, Eurobodalla and Bega Valley regions in subsequent years.

In 2019, the Board resolved to transition from an Incorporated Association to a Company Limited by Guarantee. The old legal name, Assisting Drug Dependents Inc. was replaced by Directions Health Services Limited.