5.5 National strategy to increase youth participation
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Existence of a national strategy to increase young people's political and civil society participation
The Austrian Youth Strategy (Jugendstrategie) prioritises the promotion of young people's participation and initiative within the democratic framework as a key aspect of social inclusion. By streamlining policies tailored to young people, the strategy aims to improve their coherent implementation and overall impact (see chapter 1.3).
Austrian Youth Strategy (Jugendstrategie): Participation
A thriving democracy needs ambitious people who want to take the initiative and participate and the conditions that support this initiative. This is especially the case for young people. They should be able to speak out, offer suggestions and participate in decisions that affect their lives. With its voting age set at 16 years, Austria is a pioneer in Europe with regard to participatory democracy among young people. Studies have shown that early inclusion in institutionalised participation systems such as elections generally results in a stronger desire to participate in political decision-making processes.
Besides elections, there are numerous forms of participation in Austria, of which only a portion are actually used by young people. It must therefore be clarified whether existing forms of participation truly meet the needs of today’s youth and how barriers to participation can be lowered, especially for groups from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Corresponding National Youth Goals:
- Expanding the participation of young workers in co-determination in the workplace. (Federal Ministry of Labour)
- Contributing to the political engagement of youth and young adults through civic education and education for sustainable development in the classroom. (Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research)
- Children, youths and young adults are empowered through participation in science and research (Citizen Science) and they actively participate in science and research. (Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research)
- We use the commitment and energy of young people to achieve our climate and energy goals together. (Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology)
- Young people have the opportunity to actively participate in the design of sports policy measures in the form of a dialogue process. (Federal Ministry of Arts, Culture, Civil Service and Sport)
The development of a Youth Strategy without the participation of young people themselves would not be a contemporary form of youth policy. Thus, youth is involved directly through various forms of youth participation and indirectly through youth research and the involvement of the Federal Youth Council. The new EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027 also integrates the Austrian results of the EU Youth Dialogue. Young people are involved in the development of goals and measures for the Austrian Youth Strategy (“reality checks").
The participation unit ‘beteiligung.at’ is a specialist contact partner for the involvement and participation of children, young people and adult citizens in socio-political life. The unit compiled an overview (German only) of participation opportunities for young people in Austria. The focus of the research was on legally guaranteed opportunities on behalf of the Federal Chancellery . The search referred to consolidated laws of federal and state law, regulations were only consulted in particularly relevant cases.
The ARGE Partizipation has developed Guidelines for youth participation on several levels:
- Guide to Child and Youth Participation (Leitfaden Kinder- & Jugendbeteiligung)
- Guide to the sustainable participation of young people in communities (Leitfaden zur nachhaltigen Beteiligung von jungen Menschen in Gemeinden)
- Guide to the sustainable participation of young people in urban areas (Leitfaden zur nachhaltigen Beteiligung von jungen Menschen im städtischen Bereich)
In order to implement youth policy in an interdepartmental and interdisciplinary way, all Ministries have their own youth policy campaigns and initiatives. They thus all hold responsibilities when it comes to youth participation as well as the implementation of the joint Youth Strategy. Acting specifically for youth policy is the Department for Families and Youth at the Federal Chancellery, which is responsible for the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the Youth Strategy. The provinces, cities and municipalities also hold responsibilities to implement youth participation in their own policy fields.
Youth research provides an evidence-based evaluation of the implementation.
The Austrian Youth Strategy is regularly evaluated and updated. The revision takes place continuously and at least once per legislative period. In 2019, the new youth goals were developed.