1.1 Target population of youth policy
In Austria, there is no universally valid definition of the term youth (Jugendbegriff); rather, the Austrian legal system encompasses different age groups within the framework of youth policy. Youth policy measures and strategies are therefore directed at different target groups in order to address the respective life situations and needs of young people.
At the federal level, all people up to the age of 30 are considered youth, as articulated in the Federal Youth Representation Act (Bundes-Jugendvertretungsgesetz) and the Federal Youth Promotion Act (Bundes-Jugendförderungsgesetz). The Youth Impact Assessment Regulation (WFA-Kinder-und-Jugend-Verordnung) defines all persons who have reached the age of 18 but not yet 30 as ‘young adults’ (those under 18 are specified as children) in order to involve young people in policy-making processes and to ensure that their interests and needs are taken into account.
The youth protection laws (Jugendschutzgesetze), which fall under the jurisdiction of the nine federal states, contain legal regulations to protect adolescents and children from health, moral and other dangers. Thus, these laws contain different definitions of youth, which predominantly cover young people between 14 and 18 years of age.
The Austrian Youth Strategy (2020 – 2024) primarily targets young people between the ages of 14 and 24 but also includes those under 30. Its main concern is to ensure the well-being of young people and to provide them with opportunities for the future by pooling knowledge and optimizing measures in the field of youth policy.