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2.2 Administration and governance of youth volunteering
LAST MODIFIED ON: 07/05/2019 - 14:57
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Although voluntary organisations, included those ran by young people, are governed by the Voluntary Organisations Act, this framework does not directly provide for individual volunteers. The Act addresses the institutions responsible for volunteering and voluntary organisations in general and makes no reference to volunteers as individuals.
Anyone interested in taking up volunteering is not required to obtain specific permits to engage in voluntary activities and there are no specific restrictions which limit participation in volunteering activities. In this regard, volunteering happens both formally and informally.
Formal volunteering is governed centrally and the main governmental authority responsible for volunteering and hence youth volunteering in Malta is the Parliamentary Secretariat for Youth, sport and Voluntary Organisations within the Ministry for Inclusion and Quality of Life. Both the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations and the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector fall under this Ministry. The Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations is the regulatory authority responsible for this sector with the aim of monitoring and supervising the activities of voluntary organisations as well as supporting them. The Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector sees over the development of an effective and efficient voluntary sector through the delivery of a range of support and capacity building services.
With the introduction of the Voluntary Organisations Act in 2007, two key institutions were established to ensure coordination, support and monitoring within the voluntary sector. These institutions are the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations and the Council for Voluntary Organisations.
Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations
The Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations is responsible for establishing appropriate communication systems to support Maltese citizens engaged in voluntary activities, whether in Malta or abroad. The first Commissioner was appointed in 2007. The term of office runs for three years and a Commissioner can be reappointed at the end of the period.
The Commissioner must follow a set of guiding principles:
- Recognise, encourage and promote the value and importance of voluntary activities and voluntary organisations, whether operating independently of government institutions or in a supporting role, and the benefit deriving to the social and cultural life in Malta;
- Recognise the contribution of voluntary activities and voluntary organisations, as expressions of participation, solidarity, pluralism and subsidiarity, towards the continued enjoyment and enrichment of democratic life in Malta;
- Recognise the direct economic benefit of voluntary and unremunerated activities and of initiatives undertaken by voluntary organisations and volunteers;
- Recognise the importance of the co-ordination of efforts by voluntary organisations with similar purposes so as to achieve a greater concentration of resources and the benefits of economies of scale, whilst avoiding any duplication of efforts and always acting in the interests of their beneficiaries; and
- Recognise the importance of the creation of federations or of associations of members in order to regulate member organisations and their activities in order to achieve the benefits of self regulation in the voluntary sector.
The main duties of the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations are to:
- provide enrolment facilities for organisations;
- monitor the activities of voluntary organisations to ensure observance of the Act;
- provide voluntary organisations with information about the benefits and responsibilities as a result of enrolment;
- provide information and guidelines to individuals engaged in voluntary activities and to members of voluntary organisations;
- make recommendations to the Minister responsible for social policy on legislation and policies in support of voluntary organisations, volunteers and voluntary activities;
- assist the government, government departments, public agencies and entities controlled by the government in preparing and reviewing policies in support of the voluntary sector;
- investigate any complaints relating to voluntary organisations and to take such action as is in their power to redress any justified grievance that may come to their notice;
- monitor the promotion of voluntary organisations and the behaviour of their administrators so as to ensure the observance of high standards of accountability and transparency and cooperate with and support the Council for the Voluntary Sector in developing policies which will be of benefit to the voluntary sector.
Council for the Voluntary Sector
The Council for the Voluntary Sector is composed of a Chairperson and an additional ten members. Of these eleven members, one is appointed by the Minister to represent the Government, a second is the Commissioner ex officio and the remaining nine members are appointed from the voluntary sector to represent the voluntary sector. The Council is appointed for a two year term – after this period it can either be reappointed or changed.
One of the Council’s primary aims is to represent the voluntary sector and promote its interests. While serving as a consultative body to the Commissioner when developing policies in relation to this sector. The Council is also meant to counterbalance the power of the Commissioner.
The key tasks of the Council include overseeing the volunteer sector; representing the interests of the voluntary sector as a whole; assisting the voluntary sector capacity building and training; helping with troubleshooting; creating programmes and projects for the voluntary sector; administering a voluntary organisations fund to promote voluntary activities.
In general, the Council for the Voluntary Sector acts as a platform from which co-operation is developed between voluntary organisations and the government and between voluntary organisations themselves.
European Union Programme Agency
Also established in 2007 the European Union Programme Agency is responsible for the management of the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission. Within Erasmus+ there is the European Voluntary Service, through which young people can commit to volunteering for up to 12 months in a foreign country.
Also the new European Solidarity Corps will provide opportunities of volunteering for young people.
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, the National Youth Agency, is the entity charged with the coordination of youth policy within which there are a number of action plans. One of these action plans is Voluntary and Community Activities.