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The idea of a cross-sectoral approach to youth policy was first introduced in the second revision of the national youth policy in 2004. This was again emphasised in the third revision of the document in 2010. The two documents however made no reference to any specific mechanisms other than a National Youth Agency that would coordinate the collaborative efforts.
Following the setting up of Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, the National Youth Agency, in 2011 efforts for a more cross-sectoral youth policy were made. Coordinated collaborative efforts were made for instance with the Ministry for Education and Employment, the Ministry for Health, the Ministry for Gozo, and the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity. However, this was all on an ad-hoc basis depending on specific policy issues, and no explicit legal framework or specific political commitment that underpinned cross-sectoral youth policy existed.
The ad-hoc approach started to change National Youth Policy Towards 2020: A shared vision for the future of young people. This fourth revision of the National Youth Policy was developed and formulated taking on a cross-sector approach. The document is based on two strategies. The first relates to core youth work services and falls directly under the responsibility of Aġenzija Żgħażagħ. The agency started to facilitate a more approach to coordinated partnerships with different entities within other Ministries to coordinate a smoother implementation of the National Youth Policy. Such partnerships are particularly prominent in the Culture and Education field. As for the Culture field Aġenzija Żgħażagħ together with Arts Council and Spazju Kreattiv and has a number of Empowerment projects that provide a space where young people can grow artistically. On the other hand in a collaborative effort with the Ministry for Education and Employment, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ is coordinating a youth work programme in secondary schools in Malta as part of the curriculum with Social Studies, European Studies, and Personal, Social, Career Development with an emphasis on civic and political participation.
The second strategy, ‘Cross-sectoral supports for young people’ tackles the cross-sectoral dimension of youth policy. The 7 action plans that make up the strategy, Education and Training; Health and Well-Being; Employment and Entrepreneurship; Arts and Culture; Social Inclusion; Voluntary and Community Activities and Sport and Recreational Activities, were developed and formulated together with the relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies responsible for the implementation of the particular action plan.
The document also proposed the establishment of an inter-ministerial group on youth policy intended to harmonise the implementation and monitoring of youth policy. The group which is set to be coordinated by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, is to report bi-annually on the state of play of youth policy in relation to the cross-sectoral supports as indicated in Strategy 2. The group comprising of representatives from all relevant Government Ministries, including the Office of the Prime Minister; Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Ministry for Health; Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses; Ministry for Education and Employment; Minister for Foreign and European Affairs; Ministry for Justice, Equality and Governance; Ministry for Gozo; and the Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity, met for the first time in November 2018.
After a parliamentary reshuffle, the groups include entities with the Parliamentary Secretariat for European funds; Ministry for Health; Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs; the Ministry for National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government; the Ministry for Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Social Rights; the Ministry for Education; the Ministry for Gozo; The Ministry for Inclusion and Social Wellbeing; the Parliamentary Secretariat for Sport, Recreation and Voluntary Organisationsand the Ministry for Finance and Employment.
The mandate of the inter-ministerial group is to monitor and report on the implementation of a cross-sectoral approach to youth policy. The group met in 2019 and in 2020 was instrumental in contributing to the formulation of the draft National Youth Policy: Towards 2030.
Members from the Inter-Ministerial Committee highlighted the importance of cross-sector collaboration and proposed that 2 out of the 8 strategic goals in the draft document focus on collaboration and cohesion between the different entities that provide services for young people. Strategic Goal 6 in the draft document recommends to promote and facilitate cross-sectoral initiatives with the voluntary, state and private sector that adopts an integrated and cohesive approach to meeting young people’s needs and fulfilling their aspirations. Strategic Goal 8 in the draft document recommends to ensure effective coordination and cohesion in the implantation of the national youth policy and maximise its potential for supporting young people.
In this regard, the Inter-Ministerial Committee is set to keep meeting for the newly drafted policy framework period 2021-2030 and has proposed a focus on mainstreaming through a system of ‘Youth Proofing’ to be implemented through which while enacting legislation and formulating national policies and strategic plans and initiatives, the interests of young people are recognised and taken into account.