7.8 Current debates and reforms
- An Austria-wide youth protection law has been discussed; so far the federal states did not agree on one common draft, which leaves the nine regional laws in place.
- According to the media, there are still too few clinic spaces in the child and youth psychiatry. 133 12-18-year-olds had to be treated at an adult psychiatric institution in 2017. At the moment there are only 64 beds for stationary care for young people in Vienna
Novel challenges due to COVID-19
A survey of the National Youth Council made evident that youth workers perceive negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people in terms of social contacts, mental health and job/education. Young people long for normality and social contacts while at the same time becoming more and more withdrawn. Thus, the COVID-19 crisis has raised new challenges for youth politics - with regard to mental health and others - that need to be adressed. In line with an emerging public debate, the nationwide network Open Youth Work' (bundesweites Netzwerk Offene Jugendarbeit, bOJA) in February 2021 published a paper (Positionspapier von bOJA Feb '21: 1 Jahr Corona Krise - Potentiale der Offenen Jugendarbeit in der Pandemie) calling for an increased consideration of young people's concerns in the pandemic response. The ongoing pandemic and its continuous contact restrictions have heavily affected young people's mental health. An increase of depression, withdrawal behaviour and anxiety disorders has been noted among young people. In times of crisis, young people need outside social contacts more than ever - whether exchanges with their peers, stable and sustainable relationships with adults and the opportunity to make use of youth work. Furthermore, as sports often entails social contacts, sports associations, sports facilities, and sports groups have been shut down during the pandemic, restricting the carefully built up sports environment for young people. Sports associations have thus repeatedly alerted to the high importance of sports for children and young people (Breitensport: Vereine drängen auf Öffnung).