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Finland has had separate legislation on youth work since the beginning of the 1970s. The Youth Act covers youth work (see: the Glossary) and activities, youth policy and the related responsibilities of the central and local government, cross-sectoral cooperation as well as state funding. The Youth Act is complemented by the Government Decree on Youth Work and Policy.
The Youth Act specifies the objectives and values of youth work and youth policy. The purpose of the Act is specified as follows:
1) to promote the social inclusion of young people and provide them with opportunities for exerting an influence and improving their skills and capabilities to function in society;
2) support the growth, independence and sense of community of young people and facilitate the acquisition of knowledge and adoption of skills necessary for this purpose;
3) support young people’s free-time pursuits and engagement in civic society;
4) promote non-discrimination and equality among young people and the realisation of their rights; and
5) improve young people’s growth and living conditions.
The implementation of the Youth Act is based on solidarity, cultural diversity and internationality, sustainable development, healthy lifestyles, respect for life and the environment, and cross-sectoral cooperation.
The Act also lays down provisions for both the local and national levels of youth policy and youth work. As a part of the national youth work and youth policy, the Act defines the tasks and roles of the Ministry of Education and Culture, Regional State Administrative Agencies, the State Youth Council and the Assessment and State Aid Commission. It also includes provisions on the National Youth Work and Youth Policy Programme. Additionally, it lays down provisions for Government transfers and state subsidies on youth issues.
As a part of local youth work and youth policy, the Youth Act defines the roles and responsibilities of the local authorities, youth associations and other organisations doing youth work. These include for instance, also provisions on cross-sectoral cooperation, outreach youth work and youth workshop activities. For more information about the youth work see Youth Wiki/Finland 10. Youth Work.
The rights of young people
The rights of young people specified in the Youth Act include the participation of young people in local and national level youth work and youth policy. According to the Act, youth work and youth policy at the national level shall be implemented “by engaging in cooperation with municipalities, youth organisations, other entities and the young people themselves."
In addition, young people must be given opportunities to be involved and exert an influence in the handling of matters concerning youth work and youth policy from local to national level. Furthermore, it is specified that young people shall be consulted in matters that affect them. Several other Acts define specific rights and obligations of young people.
The objective of the Youth Act is to support all persons between the age of 0 and 29 years of age. However, the Act includes special provisions on outreach youth work and youth workshops aimed at assisting those young people who are especially in need of support (see Youth Wiki/Finland 4.7 Youth Work to foster social inclusion).
Youth legislation has been regularly renewed (1972, 1986, 1995, 2006 and 2016).
The Youth Act 111/2016 was accepted by the parliament in December 2016, and came into force on 1st of January 2017.
The Government Decree on Youth Work and Policy related to the renewed Act came into force on 13th of April 2017.