1.4 Youth policy decision-making
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Youth policy-making takes place primarily at a central government level. The main responsibility for youth policy lies within the Ministry for Inclusion, Social Wellbeing and Voluntary Organizations
However there are other institutional actors that are formally involved in youth policy making such as the Office of the Prime Minister; Ministry for Health; Ministry for Gozo; Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security; Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government; Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion and the Ministry for the Family, Children's Rights and Social Solidarity.
Within these Ministries there are a number of important stake holders in youth policy-making such as the Parliamentary Secretary for Equality and Reforms; Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds and Social Dialogue; the Parliamentary Secretary for Citizenship and Communities; the Parliamentary Secretariat for Social Accommodation; and the Parliamentary Secretariat for Persons with Disability and Active Ageing.[ZJaAZ1]
In addition to these Ministries and Parliamentary Secretariats other entities also play an important role in youth policy decision making:
JobsPlus is the public employment service in Malta, providing a service for employers to search for employees, and for jobseekers to apply for different jobs. Jobsplus also offers various training opportunities, ranging from basic skills to more technical and advanced courses. Jobsplus strives to enhance employability by recommending policies and implementing initiatives aimed at empowering, assisting and training jobseekers to facilitate their entry or re-entry into the active employment market, promoting workforce development through skills and competency development, and by assisting employers in their recruitment and training needs.
The Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS) offers prevention and treatment services, both on community and residential settings within the fields of substance abuse; children, families and communities; and disability. The foundation incorporates Aġenzija Appoġġ, Aġenzija Sedqa and Agency for Community and Therapeutic Services (ACTS).
.Aġenzija Appoġġ has as its ultimate aim the enhancement of the lives of people in need, through the provision and availability of professional care and support. It offers a wide range of community-based and specialised social welfare services, Appoġġ is the central national agency for children and families in need.
Aġenzija Sedqa is the national agency against dependencies, offers health promotion, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation services to persons with drug, alcohol, and/or compulsive gambling problems, and to their families. Sedqa is made up of two divisions, namely Care and Prevention. Each of the said divisions contributes in a specific manner to the issue of dependencies.
Agency for Community and Therapeutic Services (ACTS) is the national agency intended to work with families, individuals, and communities in reaching their social and therapeutic goals. The two main branches of ACTS are the Community Services and the Home-Based Therapeutic Services. The community services are made up of teams populated by social workers, social mentors and community development workers based within various communities around Malta. The Home-Based Therapeutic Services (HBTS) consist of teams of multi-disciplinary professionals from a social and therapeutic academic background. The main aim of this service is supporting families, particularly where minors are present, that are facing various levels of challenges and may face the possibility of their family life breaking down as a result.
The office of the Commissioner for Children was set up in 2003, to promote the welfare of children (0-18 years old) and the compliance with the UN Convention on the rights of the child, as ratified by Malta, and such other international treaties, conventions or agreements relating to children as are or may be ratified or otherwise acceded to by Malta. Rather than simply acting on adult assumptions regarding the needs of children, the Commissioner promotes children’s rights by being informed directly of the experiences of children themselves. The Office acts as a focal point which monitors the current social and cultural situation in relation to children in the Malta, such that it can contribute substantially in the co-ordination that needs to take place across all sectors in order to have family-friendly policies that are also child oriented.
The Office of the Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Mental Disorders promotes and safeguards the rights of persons suffering from a mental disorder and their carers. It is responsible for the establishment of the necessary organisational structures and technical infrastructure to ensure the prompt implementation of the provisions of the Mental Health Act.
The National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) is an independent, government funded body whose primary task is to monitor the Equality for Men and Women Act; Equal Treatment of Persons Order; Access to Goods and Services and their Supply (Equal Treatment) Regulations and the Procedure for Investigation Regulations. The Commission works to ensure that Maltese society is free from any form of discrimination based on sex, gender and family responsibilities in employment, and racial and ethnic origin and gender in the provision of goods and services and their supply.
The Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations was set up by the Voluntary Organisations Act 2007 with the task to strengthen the voluntary sector through various initiatives with the specific aim of promoting the work of VOs as well as encouraging their role as partners with the government in various initiatives. The ultimate mission of the Commissioner's office is to give more visibility to the voluntary sector as well as to guarantee transparency and accountability of the organisations that compose it in the carrying out of their important work. In view of this, the Office of the Commissioner is also the regulatory authority responsible for this sector with the aim of monitoring and supervising the activities of these organisations as well as supporting them.
The Social Affairs Committee within the Maltese Parliament deals with all matters relating to social policy, including social assistance and family matters, which may be referred to it by the House or by the Standing Committee on House Business. It is responsible of youth issues.
Aġenzija Sapport provides social work services; community, day and residential services and works with persons with disability and their families to secure the means, opportunities and services whereby they can execute their right to fully participate in community life.
The Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector aims to support the development of a more effective and efficient voluntary and community sector in Malta and Gozo. In this regard the Council delivers a range of support and capacity building services including information, advice and training. The Council also aims to support the development of a more influential and cohesive voluntary and community sector in Malta and Gozo by facilitating networking and partnership within the sector, and between the same sector and the private and public sectors.
The role of the Social Care Standards Authority (SCSA) as a Regulatory Body is to improve quality and standards in social welfare services to protect and enhance the dignity, safety and welfare of all service users. This vision is to be achieved through support and regulation. Both service users and service providers will be actively involved in the ongoing process of standard development and improvement. The process of regulation is intended to be a positive experience, which is carried out through consultation, collaboration and dialogue. It is envisaged that through its operations, the Authority will positively influence social welfare practices and the qualitative development of services in the sector. The Social Care Standards Authority was established under ACT No. XV of 2018.
The Faculty of Social Wellbeing within the University of Malta has a Department of Youth and Community Studies that was set to carry out research within the areas of youth and community studies. It also sets up and delivers courses in youth and community studies which lead to academic qualifications. The Department of Youth and Community Studies also strives to engage in public debates on issues that concern young people through the organisation of conferences and fora with the aim of contributing to the identification of efficiencies and lacunae in legislation and in the youth service and to challenge dominant discourse on youth.
The National Youth Policy – Towards 2030: Reaching out to, working with, and supporting young people - is informed and built upon 2 separate but interlocking pillars. These are:
- The changing circumstances, present challenges and new opportunities – voices and lives of young people in Malta
- Building on policy foundations and successes in Malta and Europe
The policy was developed while taking into consideration how young people today are confronted with new developments in the ways and means of learning; often rapid economic change, social dislocation and growing, if uneven, affluence; increasing urbanization and rural isolation; and the effects of climate change and threats to the natural environment.
Since it commenced operations in 2011, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, the National Youth Agency has put in place administrative structures and operational procedures for the promotion and implementation of youth work practice and youth related services. The agency`s main offices and premises enabled it to house most of its staff and services on the one site. It provides space, facilities and supports for young people and youth voluntary organisations to organise events and initiatives.
The National Youth Policy, Towards 2030 – Reaching out to, working with, and supporting young people has 8 strategic goals. These are:
Strategic Goal 1: To listen to and support the voices of young people and raise awareness among young
Strategic Goal 2: To conduct research on the lives of young people to ensure a knowledge-based policy approach.
Strategic Goal 3: To further facilitate young people’s transition to adulthood.
Strategic Goal 4: To provide proactive and responsive regional, local and schools-based supports and services that enable young people to learn, work in and contribute to their communities and the wider society and create an environment that fosters equality, inclusion, educational
Strategic Goal 5: To support a wide-range of national programmes, projects and cross-sectoral initiatives for young people that promote and foster their wellbeing, creativity, cultural and artistic expression and innovation and engagement in addressing global issues for sustainable development.
Strategic Goal 6: To promote and facilitate cross-sectoral initiatives with the voluntary, state and private sectors that adopt an integrated and cohesive
Strategic Goal 7: To further enhance and develop effective youth work practice.
Strategic Goal 8: To ensure effective coordination and cohesion in the implementation of the national youth policy and maximise its potential for supporting young people.
The National Youth Agency - Aġenzija Żgħażagħ - was established in February 2011 by Legal Notice 522/2010. Aġenzija Żgħażagħ was established to mainstream youth related issues and further develop youth services in Malta. Its overall objective is to provide a coherent, cohesive and unified governmental approach to youth related policy issues.
For young people, it aims to enhance participation, empowerment and dialogue as well as expand supports and services. For policy makers, it aims to bring about a change in attitudes and work culture, to include a youth perspective, greater coherence in policymaking and better data and information on youth issues. The mission statement of Aġenzija Żgħażagħ is to coordinate the implementation of the National Youth Policy to promote and safeguard the interests of young people.
The agency falls within the responsibility of the Minister responsible for Youth affairs and is under direct supervision of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry responsible for Youth. The Agency is governed by the provisions of the Financial Administration and Audit Act.
The budget for the National Youth Agency for 2018 is €1,150,000.
The Agency has the following functions:
- to liaise and ensure the necessary coordination between Government departments and other agencies in the implementation of youth policy and measures or initiatives proposed by Government or the Agency from time to time;
- to undertake and co-ordinate research into specific issues aimed as assessing the state of play with respect to youth affairs;
- to formulate, co-ordinate, manage and evaluate youth work programmes which promote active youth participation and the empowerment of young people;
- to provide local and EU information to youth on any matters which may be of interest to their development and facilitate the participation of youths and youth organisation in EU and Euromed programmes;
- to liaise with the National Authority and National Agency of the Youth in Action programme for a coherent operational programme;
- to act as a focal point for the involvement of youth in the decision-making process;
- to promote the role of youth in local Government;
- to assist and support national and regional voluntary youth organisations and other organisations working in the youth field.
The Agency shall assume the following duties:
- to coordinate, evaluate and monitor the implementation of the National Youth Policy;
- to ensure that all Government programmes concerning the affairs and interests of young people are implemented in accordance with the National Youth Policy;
- to keep direct and continuous contact with local and foreign bodies working in the field of youth, and with other groups, agencies or individuals as the need arises;
- to ensure the highest standards in youth work; and
- to keep under review the workings of this Order, and where deemed required, at the request of the Minister or otherwise, submit proposals for the Order’s review.
The implementation of the national youth policy over the period 2021-2030, will be monitored on an ongoing basis. Aġenzija Żgħażagħ will employ its Annual Reports to record progress on implementation of the national youth policy and achievement of its strategic goals. Annual Reports will also aim to include date on the nature, extent and level of young people`s participation in youth work and youth services in Malta.
A mid-term review of the national youth policy and its implementation will take place in 2025/26 to ensure that it continues to be relevant and responsive to the needs and aspirations of young people and any proposed amendments or additions will be incorporated as part of the policy.
At the end of the period 2021-2030, an independent evaluation will be conducted on the overall impact of the policy and the benefits accruing for young people and the wider society.