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The importance of working together


June 17, 2022

Tāngata whai ora can face significant barriers when it comes to getting a job and sustaining employment. An effective support system is needed where agencies work better together.
If the system is functionally well, people with health conditions and disabilities will get a job that is right for them and are more likely to maintain it. We call this employment equity. It is a win for the person, whānau, the employer and Aotearoa New Zealand.

However, we know that this is not the way the system is currently set up to operate.

Work Counts, in partnership with Synergia and Te Pou, conducted a two-year study, funded by the Health Research Council, called Tōkeke (a verb which translates to be just, equitable and fair).

This is what our health, welfare and employment support systems need to be to ensure that tāngata whai ora are effectively supported into work. Not just any work, work that they have the skills for, work that suits their lifestyle and work that will last.

Tōkeke found out how organisations can work together to support people into employment, especially for people who experience mental health and addiction issues. The Tōkeke research team has published the first part of the Tōkeke research, a scoping review on collaboration, in the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation. It was nominated by the editor for open access.

Work Counts strategic advisor, Dr Helen Lockett, was the principle investigator for Tōkeke.

“Intentional collaboration between government agencies is needed to support people with mental health and addiction issues into employment,” says Dr Helen Lockett.

Work Counts is pleased to be a partner in this research, which finds that collaboration in the context of supporting people with mental health and addiction issues doesn’t just happen, but needs intentional support including supportive contracting and training and technical assistance.

Follow the link below to read the published article.


Wharakura, Mary-Kaye, Lockett, Helen et al (2022). Collaboration in the Context of Supporting People with Mental Health and Addiction Issues into Employment: A Scoping Review. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, pp. 271 – 287.

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