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Youth policy-making takes place primarily at a central government level. The main responsibility for youth policy lies within the Minister for Inclusion and Social Wellbeing mainly through the Parliamentary Secretary for Sports, Recreation and Voluntary Organisations.
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.
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 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 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 Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) was established in to monitor the Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act. It also provides the independent mechanism for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Together with fighting for disabled persons’ rights and dealing with cases of discrimination on the grounds of disability, CRPD also develops policy recommendations, conducts research and undertakes other initiatives with the aim of enhancing the quality of life of disabled people and their families and their full inclusion in society. Furthermore, it organises awareness-raising campaigns with the aim of increasing knowledge about disabled persons, about their rights and needs, and about their potential.
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 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.
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 Leap.
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.
Leap is made up of 11 centres around Malta and Gozo aiming to empower people to take control of their lives and make the necessary changes to finally take the ‘Leap’ forward towards a better future. Leap combats social exclusion and poverty through employment, capacity building, social integration and social mobility to reduce poverty amongst vulnerable families through employment and education.
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 National Youth Policy is informed and built upon by 3 separate but interlocking pillars. These are:
- the reality of lives of young people in Malta today;
- the development of youth policy in the past 20 years (both on a European and national level);
- Government's policy for greater democratic participation, equitable economic and social progress for all, and inclusive change.
The policy was developed on the notion that the social and cultural boundaries that have long distinguished childhood, youth and adulthood are now blurred. Children are developing faster and facing a much more complex reality. Traditional transitions from education to employment and from family home to independence are becoming much more complex. Such transitions are also changing in terms of personal lives, the idea of the traditional family is in itself changing. However, while young people in Malta today do have more choices and personal freedom than any other previous generation, the challenges and the pressures they face are also significant.
This policy is the first to be framed within the EU Youth Strategy framework and as such it took into consideration the strategy's goals and aims but also kept the development and experience of youth policymaking in Malta over the past 20 years. In the light of the Government's policy for greater democratic participation, equitable economic and social progress for all, and inclusive change the Ministry of Education and Employment, through the Parliamentary Secretary for Research, Innovation, Youth and Sport, set up a Policy Advisory Board drafted a National Youth Policy in consultation with young people. The Policy Advisory Board presented the draft discussion document following further consultations with number of other entities, namely the Church, the National Youth Council, Youth NGOs, youth workers, youth work professional bodies, stakeholders in the youth field and the broader general public. The updated version of the draft discussion document was again presented to all stakeholders for consultation and National Youth Policy - Towards 2020: A shared vision for the future of young people.
The National Youth Policy is implemented through two strategies, which comprise of a number of Action Plans.
Strategy 1: Youth work and services for young people - Services, programmes, projects and activities in support of young people and youth organisations
Action Plan - New spaces at local community level for young people and youth organisations.
Create new spaces and facilities at local community level to support the development of young people through their active involvement and participation in non-formal learning opportunities
Action Plan - Awareness raising, listening to and supporting the voice of young people.
Create initiatives and opportunities that enhance young people’s social and political awareness and that enable their voices to be heard on issues that impact on their lives.
Action Plan - Initiatives for the active engagement, empowerment and participation of young people and youth organisations.
Develop and implement initiatives, programmes and activities that actively involve young people and youth organisations in developing young people’s competences and skills that enhance their future learning and employment prospects.
Strategy 2: Cross-sectoral supports for young people - Cross-sectoral supports for young people that enhance their social participation and their learning and employment prospects.
Action Plan - Education and training.
Develop and implement initiatives that utilise both formal education and non-formal learning, as mutually reinforcing agents, with a view to enhancing young people's educational attainment levels and progression.
Action Plan - Health and well-being.
Develop and implement initiatives that seek to improve the physical, mental and emotional health and well-being of young people and address issues that impact negatively on such well-being.
Action Plan - Employment and entrepreneurship.
Develop and implement initiatives with a view to enhancing young people's participation in the labour market and their future employment, occupational or professional prospects.
Action Plan - Arts and Culture.
Develop and implement initiatives with a view to enhancing young people's artistic gifts and promoting cultural and artistic awareness and participation in and attendance at cultural and artistic pursuits and events.
Action Plan - Social Inclusion.
Develop and implement initiatives with a view to the active participation of young people with fewer opportunities and those from a migrant background.
Action Plan - Voluntary and Community activities.
Develop and implement initiatives to enable young people to be active members of their local communities and take responsibility for the quality of community life and the local environment.
Action Plan - Sport and recreational activities.
Develop and implement initiatives to support young people’s active participation in sports that enhance their physical and mental well-being, competitiveness and social relationships.
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 2015-2020, will be monitored on an ongoing basis by the Ministry responsible for Youth. Aġenzija Żgħażagħ uses its annual reports to record progress in relation to Strategy 1, while the inter-ministerial group reports on progress related to Strategy 2.
It is envisaged that at the end of the period 2015-2020, an independent evaluation will be conducted on the overall impact of the policy and the benefits accruing for young people, the voluntary youth sector and the wider society.