2.2 Administration and governance of youth volunteering
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There is no single public body responsible for volunteering in Slovenia. Different Ministries and Government Offices are involved in this:
- Ministry of Public Administration;
- Ministry of Education;
- Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Family and Equal Opportunities;
- Ministry of Interior;
- Ministry of Defence; and
- Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth.
Overall, the roles of different ministries can be categorised in the following manner:
- Ministry of Public Administration is in charge of regulatory reform as well as horizontal issues regarding NGOs in general;
- Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities and the Social Protection Institute of the Republic of Slovenia are main promoters of volunteering in the context of social welfare and they prepare various analyses and researches on the role of volunteers included in the social welfare programmes. Here, volunteering is seen as a measure of social activation;
- a range of ministries contribute by funding volunteering and voluntary programmes; and
- a range of different ministries and governmental offices are involved in the implementation of policies and programmes in this field. Among them, the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth is in charge of coordinating national programme for youth with the priority to promote volunteering among young people and reduce the proportion of young people who never engage in voluntary activities.
The Ministry of Public Administration was responsible for the process of drafting the new National strategy for the development of non-governmental sector and volunteering, based on Volunteering Act in Slovenia which was adopted in March 2018 (Strategija razvoja nevladnih organizacij in prostovoljstva do leta 2023). Their main goals are:
- to create a supportive and enabling environment for the functioning and development of non-governmental organisations (NGOs),
- to establish long-term funding for NGOs,
- to strengthen the role of NGOs in the planning and implementation of public policies at local and national level,
- to strengthen cooperation between NGOs and businesses and establishing cross-sectoral partnerships,
- to promote transparency, compliance or integrity and accountability of NGOs,
- to promote transparency, compliance or integrity and accountability of NGOs,promote solidarity and quality volunteering and the development of different forms of volunteering at local and national level.
The Strategy is implemented by all ministries and monitored by the Ministry of Public Administration.
On the basis of Volunteering Act, the Government established the Council of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for the Promotion of Volunteering, Voluntary Organisations and NGOs (Svet Vlade Republike Slovenije za spodbujanje razvoja prostovoljstva, prostovoljskih in nevladnih organizacij). The Ministry of Public Administrations coordinates its work.
The Council monitors, identifies and assesses the situation of voluntary and non-governmental organisations and takes initiatives to encourage their development, gives suggestions for the development and adoption of regulations and measures necessary for the implementation of national policies related to voluntary and non-governmental organisations. The Council cooperates with volunteers and NGOs and considers their positions on the proposals of laws and regulations as well as the national strategy for volunteering.
Among the main non-public actors taking part in the development of policies in the field of youth volunteering, the following organisations representing non-profit sector have been recognised:
- Slovenian Network of Voluntary Organisations (Slovenska mreža prostovoljskih organizacij) gathers more than 1300 organisations and is the largest network in Slovenia. It was formed to promote volunteering, identify the value of voluntary activities and create an environment fertile for its development. The purpose of the network is to support organisations in organising voluntary work, to help organisations to promote their voluntary programmes and help potential volunteers to find voluntary work.
- Slovene Philanthropy is the main actor in the field of voluntary work in Slovenia and also leads the Slovenian network of voluntary organisations. It aims to promote and develop voluntary work and, in general, solidarity among people. In addition to promoting voluntary work, its core activities include helping individuals to get in touch with organisations in need of volunteers, training volunteers and supporting civic organisations. They also organise training of mentors and organisers of voluntary activities in NGOs and public institutions carrying voluntary activities. The Slovene Philanthropy together with the Slovenian Network of Voluntary Organisations are dialogue partners of the Ministry of Public Administration for issues relating to voluntarism.
- National Youth Council (Mladinski svet Slovenije) is a network of national youth organisations in Slovenia and main actor in promoting voluntary work among young people by organising a well-received event “Volunteer of the Year” (Prostovoljec leta). The volunteers of the year receive the award from the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.
- MOVIT, Institute for Development of Youth Mobility (MOVIT, Zavod za razvoj mobilnosti mladih), performs tasks of the national agency for the European Union programme Erasmus+: Youth in Action. Its Eurodesk services help young people in Slovenia find voluntary placements in foreign countries.
- Institute Nefiks, Institute for Promotion and Recording of Informally Acquired Knowledge (Zavod Nefiks, Inštitut za promocijo in beleženje neformalno pridobljenega znanja) promotes non-formal learning and recognition of competences gained in non-formal learning activities, including voluntary activities.
- Youth Network MaMa combines and represents organisations that run youth centres or are active in youth work in Slovenia in order to support the youth, their spending of quality free time and a better life in society. On local level, youth centres are important agents in promoting voluntary work.
- Institute Voluntariat is an organisation that offers various opportunities for international voluntary work.
Other public bodies involved in volunteering
Municipalities are also involved in supporting voluntary activities. Each year (starting in 2001) Slovene Philanthropy is giving recognition awards to municipalities that are successfully supporting voluntary activities of their citizens. In 2021, 36 Slovenian municipalities received the recognition award Volunteer-friendly Municipality (Prostovoljstvu prijazna občina) for their achievements in supporting voluntary work (11 of them received the award for the first time that year). In order to become recognized in this field, municipalities can support volunteering in various ways that include:
- financial support of voluntary activities;
- joining larger local and national voluntary actions by involving mayors and other municipal workers in the voluntary activities;
- attending volunteering actions and events and through this gathering information about the needs of voluntary organisations;
- promoting voluntary work and organisations by promoting them through their own media and on their official websites;
- organising their own public events where citizens gather in voluntary actions;
- providing support in applying for international voluntary projects and collaborating with other organisations at national and international level;
- organising events with the intention to recognize, thank and award active and successful volunteers in their municipality.
Municipalities are an important actor in connecting local voluntary organisations with the state and international institutions that are supporting voluntary work. They have an important role in supporting local organisations by providing them information and financial support in applying for projects, funded by state organisations and European Union.
According to the Volunteering Act, other public institutions can also organise volunteering on the basis of volunteering programmes and agreements with voluntary organisations. One of those institutions are also public schools that are encouraging their students to involve themselves in volunteering. Slovene philanthropy is organising trainings for primary and high school students, employees and organisations in order to encourage them to involve themselves in voluntary organisations and actions.
The Council of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for the Promotion of Volunteering, Voluntary Organisations and NGOs (Svet Vlade Republike Slovenije za spodbujanje razvoja prostovoljstva, prostovoljskih in nevladnih organizacij) is a consultative body composed of representatives of public bodies and non-governmental organisations and civil society and as such represents the main form of cross-sectorial cooperation in the field. It represents a form of consultation with the non-profit sector as well as a form of cooperation between different ministries and public bodies. Balanced grounds for Council’s activities are indicated by half of the Council’s members being representatives of non-governmental actors (10 out of 20) and the designation of the role of the president of the Council to a representative of non-governmental organisations. The council is awarding organisations and individuals for exceptional achievements in the field of voluntary work. The award is given by the President of the Republic of Slovenia.
Cross countries' cooperation in voluntary activities for youth in Slovenia is supported by international programs such as European Solidarity Corps or the programs offered by NGO Voluntariat. The Office of the Republic of Slovenia for youth connected and discussed with French and Italian state representatives about voluntary schemes. They presented to Slovenia their strategies and experiences. The discussions were directed towards implementing similar schemes for voluntaristic youth activities in Slovenia and establishing international cooperation.