Competencies in the field of youth policy in Austria
Due to the federal structure of Austria, thecompetencies are divided between the Federal Government (central organ) and the Federal States. The general clause in Article 15 of the Austrian Constitution (Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz) asignes all competencies which haven't been confered to the Federal Republic (in the comprehensive Articles 10 - 14b) to the Federal Provinces (fallback clause). Within the Federal Government, the Department for Family and Youth at the Federal Chancellery (Bundeskanzleramt, Sektion für Familie und Jugend) holds the main responsibility. However, as a cross-sectional matter, youth policy is co-designed by the other Ministries. In the Federal Provinces, the Provincial Youth Departments (Landesjugendreferate) dertermine youth policies.
The areas of state action are clearly assigned to either the federal government or the federal states with regard to the legislature and implementation.
The competencies of the provinces in the field of youth policy
Youth promotion and youth work outside the school sector is primarily the responsibility of the provinces. The Provincial Youth Departments (Landesjugendreferate) located in the provincial governments have the task of implementing the youth policy measures of the province in youth work outside the school sector and coordinating cross-sectorial provincial youth policy. Their most important fields of activity are as follows:
- Lobbying measures in the children’s and youth sectors
- Promotion and support of children’s and youth institutions, particularly of open youth work. Youth centres, mobile youth work and youth information bodies of the provinces as well as initiatives at regional and municipal levels belong to the latter category.
- Services for children and young people as well as for work with children and youth work etc.
- The training and further training of staff involved in youth work
- Public relations work
- Youth welfare: the tasks of youth welfare include all measures involving maternity, infant and youth welfare, which serve the well-being of the child with the aim of strengthening the ability of families to bring up their children
- Youth protection: Risk situations included in youth protection legislature are, for instance: staying in public places, spending the night in hostels or at campsites, attending public theatre or film performances, visiting public houses, consuming alcohol and nicotine, hitch-hiking etc.
Competencies in the youth sector
At a federal level, the Department for Family and Youth at the Federal Chancellery (Bundeskanzleramt, Sektion für Familie und Jugend) is primarily responsible for youth policy, with particular emphasis on the upbringing of young people outside the school sector. It leads and coordinates the cross-sectoral youth policy carried out by all Ministries. The tasks which have to be fulfilled in this area are:
- Legislation and its implementation in this domain
- Basic legislature in the youth welfare sector
- Expert advice function for draft bills
- UN Agreement on the Rights of the Child
- International agendas including EU youth programme
- The financial support of youth organisations, youth initiatives, associations and youth projects
- Youth information
- Initiation and promotion of youth research and
- Initiating, promoting and dealing with priority themes such as violence against children, health promotion and preventive healthcare, new media, participation, sects, youth information, training youth leaders etc.