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Youth policy at the federal level
As a result of the federalist structure of Austria, the responsibilities for youth policy and for extracurricular child and youth work divided between the nine federal states and the federal government. Youth Policy is a cross-departmental cross-sectoral matter. That is why youth-relevant agendas can be found in all ministries. The agendas for general affairs and the coordination of youth policy lie with the Federal Chancellery (2019). The objectives of the Austrian Youth Strategy are the establishment of youth policy as a cross-sectoral matter, the positioning of extracurricular child and youth work as an important pillar of youth policy, the visualisation of existing activities for young people in all policy areas and fields of action and on this basis the improved coordination of measures between the youth political stakeholders. According to the Federal Youth Promotion Act (Federal Act on the Promotion of Extracurricular Youth Education and Youth Work, B-JFG), the work of nationwide youth organisations and associations is financially supported by the Federal Chancellery. At the national level, the Federal Youth Council acts as a legally anchored advocacy group for all children and adolescents. Its tasks are regulated by the Federal Youth Representation Act, whose implementation falls within the area of responsibility of the Federal Chancellery. All parties represented in the National Council have (child and) youth spokespersons. There is no separate Child and Youth Committee in Parliament, and agendas are dealt with in the relevant committees, mainly the Family Committee.
Youth policy at the federal states level
For the regional design and implementation of youth policy issues and the implementation of extracurricular child and youth work, the respective head of (provincial) youth department (LandesjugendreferentIn) is responsible. Depending on the federal state, there are different competence distributions and areas of responsibility; within the state administration, these tasks can also be assigned to different organisational units. According to the Federal Constitution, the responsibility for extracurricular child and youth work lies mainly with the federal states. Similar to the children and youth spokespersons in the National Council, there are also mostly children and youth spokespersons among the parties represented in the Provincial Diets. Provincial advisory councils (with different designations) advise the Provincial Governments in the field of youth policy in almost all federal states. The composition and competencies of these bodies vary from federal state to federal state.
Youth policy at the communal level
The municipalities are the immediate living space of children and adolescents and thus of particular relevance. They enable them to gain a wealth of experience in the immediate living environment by creating recreational facilities, open youth centres or mobile youth work and other infrastructure. The municipal extracurricular child and youth work comprises a very wide range of activities. These include the coordination and networking of interest groups and actors in extracurricular child and youth work, the construction and maintenance of child- and youth-specific leisure facilities, the support of child and youth organisations and the development and implementation of own offers and programs, such as holiday games or youth citizens celebrations.
As part of the national coordination of youth affairs, there is an annual conference of the heads of (provincial) youth departments (LandesjugendreferentInnen) with the federal minister responsible for youth, in which the employees of the relevant specialist departments participate.
As part of the Austrian Youth Strategy, each federal ministry has developed and defined one or more national “youth objectives” within its own sphere of competence until September 2019. Building on this, measures to implement the youth objectives will be developed from autumn 2019 onwards.