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The Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection is the top-level authority responsible for voluntary engagement (Freiwilliges Engagement). In the field of youth volunteering, it shares responsibility with the top-level authority competent for youth affairs, the Department for Families and Youth at the Federal Chancellery. Both provide basic information on their websites.
The online platform www.freiwilligenweb.at is dedicated to voluntary activities and provides information on any topic regarding voluntary engagement in Austria, including a list of volunteering opportunities. It is run by the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection.
Furthermore, the website aktivwerden.at, developed by an initiative called 'Entscheidend bist DU' (YOU are crucial) by the former Ministry of Education and Science, provides a list of NGOs and NPOs offering voluntary activities placements. Furthermore, a test can be undertaken to figure out what kind of voluntary engagement would fit best to the person’s interests.
The Youth Information Centers
The Austrian Youth Information Centres inform young people about the many different opportunities for volunteering at home and abroad. The relevant publications of the Youth Information Centres as well as on-site counselling are to serve as a guide for young people in their search for a suitable voluntary commitment or place of work. The Website 'Jugendportal' for example provides young people with information on how to volunteer abroad (Freiwillig Arbeiten im Ausland). On the same topic, an information brochure was published. On the other hand, the Youth Information Centres support young people in successfully implementing their project ideas and voluntary projects within the framework of 'Your projects' ("EureProjekte" - depicted bellow) and similar initiatives and programmes.
The Volunteer centres in Austria offer placement, counselling and continuous support services for those interested in voluntary work. They serve as a contact point for people who want to commit themselves to voluntary activities as well as for organisations offering places for volunteer work. Together with the local GEMA (Gemeinsam aktiv, active together) hubs, they seek to match the supply of and demand for volunteer work. The volunteer centres offer basic and advanced training for volunteers and volunteer co-ordinators or organise such training programmes, support the transfer of expertise and supply information. A list of volunteer centres is available online.
Tasks of the independent volunteer centres
- Attracting, advising, placing and supporting volunteers
- Networking and communication
- Regional/local pilot schemes of local authorities and organisations
- Training and further training
- Voluntary engagement and the acquisition of skills
- Accident and liability insurance for volunteers
- Lobbying and public relations work
The Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protectionpromotes volunteer-specific projects of nationwide importance as well as model projects of volunteer organisations and supports educational, training and quality assurance measures. With the Recognition Fund for Volunteer Commitment, which was created in July 2013, an additional option for supporting volunteer activities has been created. This Fund promotes activities and initiatives contributing to the development or implementation of innovative measures, especially activities or initiatives aimed at a sustainable maintenance of volunteer commitment in Austria. The maximum subsidy for such activities or initiatives amounts to EUR 15,000 in the case of an organisation.
Volunteer Passport (Freiwilligenpass)
The Austrian Volunteer Passport issued by the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protectiondocuments voluntary activities. This record of voluntary work specifies all skills in detail. This, in turn, offers young and/or working persons benefits in the world of work, such as, for example, in submitting job applications or career development. Information on the approval of voluntary engagement are to be found online.
EureProjekte enables young people between 14 and 24 to put their project ideas into practice. Young people receive start-up funding of up to 500 euros, for projects focusing on 'climate protection and sustainability' currently up to 750 euros, as well as advice from the local youth information office. By the end of 2018, more than 350 projects had been launched, reaching around 16,000 people. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, time extensions for projects could be requested on the official website.
In addition to the initial funding, young people also receive an individual project consultation with employees of the provincial youth information centres. The aim of EureProjekte is for young people to experience their own effectiveness and to put themselves to the test, with failure allowed. At the same time, young people’s innovation and commitment are made visible. Funding is granted to projects or project ideas that meet the basic eligibility criteria in form and content and have been chosen by a jury in a selection process. Project ideas must be creative and innovative, and open up new spaces that contribute to social diversity and promote cooperation. There are no limits to the topics: art and culture, environment, health, sustainability, social involvement, society, technology, sport, and others.
EureProjekte is an initiative of the Department for Families and Youth at the Federal Chancellery and is carried out in cooperation with the National Network of Austrian Youth Information Centres (Bundenetzwerk Österreichische Jugendinfos).
The GEMA - Active Together idea competition
The idea competition was intended to consolidate and extend local voluntary work cultures in an innovative and forward-looking way. A total of 20 pilot schemes were selected by an expert jury and awarded funding for two years from the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection and the Social Affairs Department of the province of Upper Austria. In addition, these local and regional pilot schemes receive organisational support from the ULF Centre in Linz.
As part of the pilot scheme,the independent provincial volunteer centre in Linz (ULF) was established as an independent volunteers' centre that offers a professional infrastructure in the placement, networking, training and further training of volunteers. Local authorities - who are faced with particularly great challenges in terms of demographic changes - are to be supported in the establishment of local hubs for voluntary engagement in cooperation between the generations.
(Young) Volunteers Fair (Freiwilligenmesse)
In 2011, the association for voluntary fairs to promote voluntary work in Austria (Verein Freiwilligenmessen zur Förderung von Freiwilligenarbeit in Österreich) was founded and is supported by the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection. They first installed a voluntary fair in 2012, which now takes place every year. Together with competence centre for non-profit organisations and social entrepreneurship (Kompetenzzentrum für Nonprofit Organisationen und Social Entrepreneurship), the first fair for young volunteers was organised in 2016 (60 exhibitors, 1700 visitors). The second young volunteers fair took place in May 2017. As of March 2021, this year’s fair is expected to take place in October. Updates relevant to the COVID-19 situation and corresponding changes made to the program as well as impressions of past fairs can be viewed online.
Voluntarily for Vienna (Freiwillig für Wien)
An initiative of the City of Vienna brings together offers and inquiries: Voluntary organisations and enthusiasts who want to be involved in an honorary capacity can find each other online. For Viennese who want to make a voluntary contribution to society, online guidance and help is provided.
The Red Cross motivates young people to start voluntary engagement, supported by the Department for Families and Youth at the Federal Chancellery. It runs an own Website and programme for young volunteers.
Furthermore, the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection published a brochureto give a compact overview of the value and importance, diversity and variety of voluntary engagement.