10.2 Administration and governance of youth work
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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 extracurricular child and youth work are divided between the nine federal states and the federal government. According to the Federal Constitution, the responsibility for extracurricular child and youth work mainly lies with the federal states. In the federal government, youth-relevant agendas can be found in all ministries as youth policy is a cross-departmental cross-sectoral matter. The agendas for general affairs and the coordination of youth policy currently lie with the Directorate General Family and Youth at the Federal Chancellery (Bundeskanzleramt - Sektion Familie und Jugend).
The objectives of the Austrian Youth Strategy (Österreichische Jugendstrategie) include the establishment of youth policy as a cross-sectoral matter and the positioning of extracurricular child and youth work as an important pillar of youth policy. The coordination of measures between all youth political stakeholders shall be improved ont the basis of a review of the existing activities for young people in all policy areas and fields of action.
Based on the Federal Youth Promotion Act (Bundes-Jugendförderungsgesetz, B-JFG), the work of nationwide youth organisations and associations is financially supported by the Federal Chancellery.
At the national level, theAustrian National Youth Council (Bundesjugendvertretung, BJV) 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 established (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.
The Centre of competence for Open Youth Work (bundesweites Netzwerk Offene Jugendarbeit, bOJA) was founded in 2009 and builds on a long tradition of networking Open Youth Work in Austria. It represents the field of action of Open Youth Work in Austria, acts as a competence, service and networking centre for Open Youth Work, as a platform for knowledge and information exchange as well as an expert centre for quality development in the field of Open Youth Work. bOJA works closely together with the umbrella organisations and provincial networks of Open Youth Work.
Youth policy at the federal states level
The regional design and implementation of youth policy issues and the implementation of extracurricular child and youth work falls under the responsibility of the respective provincial youth department (Landesjugendreferate). 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 children and youth spokespersons among the parties represented in most 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 constitute the immediate living space of children and adolescents and are thus of particular relevance. They enable them to gain a wealth of experience in their 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 the provincial youth departments (LandesjugendreferentInnen) with the federal minister or state secretary responsible for youth, in which the employees of the relevant specialist departments participate.
As part of the Austrian Youth Strategy (2019 - ongoing), each federal ministry has developed and defined one or more national 'youth objectives' within its own sphere of competence. Building on this, measures to implement the youth objectives have been developed from autumn 2019 onwards. This aimed to establish youth policy as a cross-sectoral issue and leaned on the 4 fields of action of the Austrian Youth Strategy: Learning and Employment, Participation and Initiative, Quality of Life and a Spirit of Cooperation, and Media and Information.
The operating unit for the Youth Strategy is the Youth Competence Centre (Kompetenzzentrum Jugend) within the DG Family and Youth at the Federal Chancellery. Established in May 2013, the Centre coordinates key activities, offers knowledge and skills, and establishes contact with experts. The goal of the centre is to develop a stable network between a diverse group of youth policy stakeholders.