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26 May 2023

Warren Elwin recognised with prestigious international leadership award

Workwise and Work Counts chief executive, Warren Elwin, has been recognised for his outstanding leadership in IPS employment support, as the recipient of the prestigious International IPS Learning Community’s 2023 Rick Martinez Leadership Award.


Workwise and Work Counts chief executive, Warren Elwin, has been recognised for his outstanding leadership in IPS employment support, as the recipient of the prestigious International IPS Learning Community’s 2023 Rick Martinez Leadership Award.

Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is a proven method of employment support that combines employment assistance with mental health treatment and support. Each year at the international IPS Annual Meeting in the USA, an outstanding country or state leader is announced as the recipient of the award, which is named after Rick Martinez, co-founder of the IPS International Learning Community and also an outstanding leader himself.

Travelling from New Zealand, Warren was present to accept the award at this year’s awards evening in Salt Lake City, Utah on Tuesday 23 May, a fitting accolade and wonderful celebration for an incredible leader whose work has had a positive and lasting impact across Aotearoa New Zealand.

Workwise board co-chair, Jacqui Bennion, says she is delighted to see Warren’s commitment to advancing evidence-based employment approaches recognised, not just in New Zealand but also by the international community.

“Getting people into real jobs can be life changing, and Warren has dedicated many years to ensuring this is a reality for thousands of New Zealanders.”

Warren established and has led Workwise, the largest provider of IPS employment support in New Zealand, for over 20 years. Workwise supports around 2,500 people every year to fulfil their employment aspirations. Warren also led the 2017 establishment of Work Counts, New Zealand’s IPS centre of technical assistance. Both organisations are part of the Wise Group. During this time, he also supported New Zealand to membership and active participation in the International IPS Learning Community and annual meet ups.

The Work Counts team collectively nominated Warren for the Rick Martinez Leadership Award, led by Dr Helen Lockett, Strategic Lead at Te Pou. Helen says it was an incredibly easy nomination to make, as Warren “ticked all the boxes, and then some.”

“Warren is a values-led entrepreneur, superb change maker, strategic thinker, and implementer who oozes kindness and care,” says Helen. “An eloquent speaker and writer, he uses words as a tool to influence hearts and minds – this is evident in his tireless advocacy to central and regional government and among the health and social welfare sectors, whether in making submissions to shape policy, holding relationships at the highest level or championing research projects.”

Warren’s vision, tenacity and commitment to honouring the employment aspirations of people with mental health and addiction issues brought IPS employment support to New Zealand more than 20 years ago and he continues to support increased access to employment support for people with health and personal challenges across the country today.

From pioneering beginnings, New Zealand now has more than 90 employment consultants integrated into over 70 health, addiction, youth, justice, homeless, and social care settings.

Helen says that Warren espouses what exemplary IPS leadership is all about – ensuring the best quality employment support is available and accessible to people and whānau (extended families) who face inequities. “Warren walks the talk, regularly rolling his sleeves up to help out.”

“He is constantly seeking opportunities to support more people through IPS evidence-based practices and has influenced a generation of employment support and health leaders and practitioners in Aotearoa New Zealand to believe in and witness the powerful potential of creating work connections and supporting people to live their dreams.”


Image caption: Warren Elwin, Chief Executive of Workwise and Work Counts (New Zealand) holds his award with Sarah Swanson, Director IPS Learning Community, The IPS Employment Center (USA) and Richard Bell, Vocational Professional Leader, Te Whatu Ora Te Tai Tokerau (New Zealand).

About Warren Elwin:
Warren has spent over 20 years designing and leading employment services. He is regularly called upon to share his knowledge and expertise. Originally a social worker and employment specialist, Warren is an agent for change who enjoys taking a creative approach to making a difference within the sector.

About the IPS Learning Community:
Since 2001, the IPS Learning Community has grown to include 23 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Alameda County (California), Broward County (Florida), and seven countries outside the U.S.: Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, New Zealand, England, Montreal, Canada, and France. The 17th Annual Meeting of the International IPS Learning Community was held in Salt Lake City, Utah (USA) on 23-24 May 2023.

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