Disability Employment Australia. Represent, Support, Resource

Hall of Fame

Dr Geoffrey Waghorn - Awarded August 2014

Dr Geoffrey Waghorn is a well-respected academic working in the area of mental health and vocational rehabilitation. Through his work, he has proven his commitment to promoting the value of people with disability, and their inclusion in the life of their community.

Geoff has a BSS from University of Waikato, New Zealand (majoring in Psychology and Philosophy). He has a Post Graduate Diploma in Psychology (with distinction) and a PhD from The University of Queensland, in the field of vocational rehabilitation of people with schizophrenia.

He is currently an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCHMR), in the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland. As the head of the Social Inclusion and Recovery Research team, Geoff leads a program of research into the functional recovery of people with mental illness and psychiatric disability. The team has a focus on translating research evidence in to real world practice, especially in the domain of vocational rehabilitation.

Geoff is most well-known and widely regarded, nationally and internationally, for his ongoing role researching the efficacy of and promoting the Individual Placement and Support (or IPS) as the core employment assistance model for people with mental illness.

In 2011, Geoff authored a presentation advocating the IPS model to the Australian Government's Parliamentary Inquiry into Mental Health and Workforce Participation.

In the 2014 Interim Report on Welfare Reform, authored by Patrick McClure, the IPS model is singled out as an innovative improvement to the current approach to assisting people with mental illness into sustainable employment.

Geoff has strong relationships with Disability Employment Service providers, including, for example, a long-term association with Break Thru People Solutions and The ORS Group. 

In conjunction with Break Thru, his work on Managing Personal Information (MPI) is of great relevance to the DES sector. The MPI plan was developed to minimise the risk of stigma and unfair discrimination in the workplace by focussing on an individual's strengths. The plan was published in 2010, and is currently being trialled at Break Thru People Solutions and other DES sites in Queensland.

Geoff has authored over 40 articles on evidence-based practice in the employment of people with psychiatric disability which have had significant impact at a national and international level.

Geoff’s drive has seen clients with mental health move away from Australian Disability Enterprises to open competitive employment by challenging our own thinking, values and opinions about what mental health clients can and can’t do.  Geoff is about ‘show me the evidence that this person cannot work given the right support and job match’.

One of the messages that Geoff works tirelessly to promote is his belief that mental health clients want to integrate into the norm, they do not want be surrounded or reminded that they have to have special services due to their mental health, as they see this as reinforcing society’s view of their limitations. 

Geoff’s work has resulted in significant changes in the way employment providers assist clients who experience poor mental health. He is well deserving of a place in Disability Employment Australia’s Hall of Fame.