2.8 Raising awareness about youth volunteering opportunities
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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 Family 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.
The youth information centres (Österreichische Jugendinfostellen) set up in the federal provinces provide young people with information on the many opportunities for volunteering at home and abroad. The relevant publications of the youth information centres as well as on-site counselling are intended to serve as a guide for young people in their search for a suitable voluntary commitment or job. The website 'Youth Portal' (Jugendportal), which is managed by the federal networks of the Austrian Youth Info Centres (BÖJI), informs young people about 'Volunteering abroad' (Freiwillige Einsätze im Ausland), among other things. An information brochure has also been published on this topic.
Austria’s volunteer centres (Freiwilligenzentren Österreich) offer placement, counselling and support for people interested in volunteering and for organisations looking for volunteers. Together with the local GEMA hubs (Gemeinsam-aktiv-Drehscheiben), they try to match supply and demand for volunteering. Furthermore, volunteer centres offer and organise training and further education for volunteers and volunteer coordinators, support knowledge transfer and provide information. A list of volunteer centres is available online.
Regular volunteer fairs in the provinces, such as the Vienna Volunteer Fair (Wiener Freiwilligenmesse), advertise and inform about volunteering throughout Austria. Here, young people are introduced to various volunteer programmes in Austria. Along the way, young people also have the opportunity to personally get in touch with participants from numerous volunteer organisations (for more information see below).
In order to generate public interest in volunteering, national daily newspapers as well as regional media repeatedly focus on the achievements of volunteers; individuals, groups of people or organisations are recognised and awarded through various honours and awards at federal, state and municipal level (Hörting and Spreitzer 2019:10f.).
In order to disseminate information about national and cross-border volunteering among young people in Austria, various initiatives have been launched or programmes implemented in recent years.
- For example, the association 'Volunteer Fairs to Promote Volunteering' ("Verein Freiwilligenmessen zur Förderung des freiwilligen Engagements"), founded in 2011 and funded by the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection, regularly organises volunteer fairs (Freiwilligenmessen) in the federal provinces. Volunteer fairs also take place at regional or local level. As an additional platform for promoting and informing about volunteering, they are a successful concept. The previous fairs in Vienna attracted more than 30,500 visitors and brought around 6,000 new volunteers to the participating organisations. Together with the Competence Centre for Non-Profit Organisations and Social Entrepreneurship, the first Young Volunteer Fairs was organised in 2016. With YOVO2020, the association organised the first digital volunteer fair in Austria to continue to create an additional offer for a younger target group between 17 and 27 years. In 2023, the Vienna Volunteer Fair celebrates its 11th anniversary (11. Wiener Freiwilligenmesse). Around 50,000 visitors have attended the volunteer fairs in Vienna and Lower Austria in the past years, thus contributing to the spread of volunteering in Austria.
- With the brochure 'Simply away - stays abroad for young people' ("Einfach weg - Auslandsaufenthalte für junge Leute"), the Austrian Youth Information Centres (Österreichischen Jugendinformationsstellen) have been informing young people all over Austria about volunteering and stays abroad for years. The 11th updated edition is published in 2023.
- The European youth information network Eurodesk, which in Austria lists the regional youth information centres as partners, provides information on mobility in Europe, especially with the #timetomove campaign. A dedicated online platform for volunteering informs young people in several languages about volunteering opportunities and programmes in Europe.