2.3 National strategy on youth volunteering
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Slovenia has not introduced a national strategy that would specifically consider youth volunteering, but based on the Volunteering Act, the Ministry of Public Administration prepared the National strategy for the development of non-governmental sector and volunteering until 2023 (Strategija razvoja nevladnih organizacij in prostovoljstva do leta 2023) that was adopted in 2018.
Moreover, the National Programme for Youth 2013-2022 (Resolucija o nacionalnem programu za mladino 2013–2022) introduces youth volunteering and encouragement of youth volunteering as its important objective, particularly in terms of educational potential and its contribution to the development of local communities. It emphasizes voluntary activities among young people as one of eight key areas that should be promoted and developed. Among the priority guidelines of the Programme is to promote volunteering among young people and reduce the proportion of young people who never engage in voluntary activities.
The National Programme for Youth, when it comes to youth volunteering, does not contain objectives and measures relevant to ‘inclusive volunteering’ and there are no specific target groups – whose participation in voluntary activities should be fostered – identified.
There is no specific law on youth volunteering in Slovenia, only the Act on Public Interest in the Youth Sector (Zakon o javnem interesu v mladinskem sektorju) that introduces youth volunteering as one of the core areas of youth policy. However, volunteering has been legislated in 2011 when members of the Slovenian Parliament unanimously adopted the Volunteering Act.
Volunteering Act regulates the wider field of socially beneficial work of individuals and voluntary organisations, through their activities, knowledge and experience, in order to make a significant contribution to raising the standard of living of individuals and society as a whole. Systemic regulation of volunteering, among other things, opens up opportunities for unemployed people in volunteering.
The main objective of the Act is to provide an overview of organised volunteering and to determine the basis of a systematic evaluation and development of voluntary work as well as to determine the state’s role in the promotion, development and system support of volunteering.
The Act of 2011 was followed by some other legislation documents that more precisely define the implementation of the Act. They define areas of voluntary work and regulate in detail the scope of rewarding the volunteers and volunteer organisations, including:
- Rules on voluntary work areas and Register (Official Gazette of RS, No. 48/11, 60/11 amendments and supplements) (Pravilnik o področjih prostovoljskega dela in vpisniku (Uradni list RS, št. 48/11 in 60/11 – popr.));
- Regulation on detailed arrangements to grant awards and recognitions of the Republic of Slovenia for volunteering (Official Gazette of RS, No. 62/11) (Uredba o nagradi in priznanjih za prostovoljstvo (Uradni list RS, št. 62/11));
- Rules governing the method of work of the Committee of the RS for the award in volunteering and its expert committees set out in the Volunteering Act (Official Gazette of RS, No. 10/11, 16/11 amendments and supplements and 82/15) (Zakon o prostovoljstvu (Uradni list RS št. 10/11 in 16/11 – popr. in 82/15)).
The amendment to the Volunteering Act has been adopted in 2015 and simplified the reporting on a completed volunteer work, eliminated additional administrative burdens and made easier the provision of voluntary work in public entities or by private persons that perform public service. Volunteering Act consists of eight parts:
- The aim and the definition of volunteering are explained in the first part of the Act.
- The concepts and terms, including volunteering, volunteer and volunteer organisation are included in the second part.
- The third part presents the principles of non-discrimination in the field of organised volunteering, the protection of users of voluntary work, the non-exploitation of volunteers, the protection of children and free nature of volunteering.
- The fourth part of the Act defines the conditions for voluntary work, including the agreement about voluntary work and its content, guidelines how to use the Code of Obligations (Obligacijski zakonik), termination and cancellation of an agreement.
- The fifth part of the Act defines rights and obligations of volunteers and voluntary organisations when implementing organised voluntary work. It includes articles on rights and obligations of volunteers, their possibility to complain and the necessary step to asses a complain, the insurance of a volunteer in case of unemployment, liabilities of voluntary organisations and its responsibility for any damage caused. It also prescribes the guidelines of an appropriate training, requires mentoring and predicts an award for special achievements of a volunteer.
- Promotion and monitoring of organised volunteering are described in the sixth part of the Act. It predicts sustainable development of voluntary work in the field of education, new strategy of voluntary work and support for promotion and development of voluntary work. In addition, it defines the subscription of voluntary organisations in the official register of voluntary organisations and their responsibility of reporting. It presents committee and guidelines for nomination of awards for volunteers and it also defines funding for awards which needs to be ensured in the State budget. Moreover, it includes a necessity of awarding by local communities.
- The final provisions, responsibilities and monitoring of the act are defined, including penal provisions.
There is no ethical note included in the Act, voluntary work is regarded as a social phenomenon, integrated in the society. The act is focused on organisation of voluntary work, including terms for voluntary organisations and rights and responsibilities of key actors.
Moreover, some other strategic public documents refer to volunteering (but not particularly to youth volunteering):
- The National Social Protection Programme 2013-2020 (Resolucija o nacionalnem programu socialnega varstva za obdobje 2013-2020) emphasises that the Government supports the development of voluntary work. By setting up a uniform system of social protection and by stimulating the development of voluntary work, charity, self-help and donorship, the state is to provide better direct financial support and encourage the development of non-governmental organisations as well as the private sector.
- The National Sports Programme in the Republic of Slovenia 2014-2023 (Resolucija o Nacionalnem programu športa v Republiki Sloveniji za obdobje 2014–2023) particularly addresses the support for the training of voluntary workers. Voluntary work is also stated as one of the means of financing the sports.
- According to the Resolution on the National Programme in the Field of Narcotic Drugs 2014 – 2020 (Resolucija o Nacionalnem programu na področju prepovedanih drog 2014–2020), voluntary work done by NGOs should become a common preventive measure in this area in the local community and civil society.
Other official documents containing guidelines on youth volunteering
The Act on Public Interest in the Youth Sector (Zakon o javnem interesu v mladinskem sektorju), adopted on 18 May 2010 by the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, introduces youth volunteering as one of fields of youth policy implementation.
The Organisation and Financing of Education Act (Zakon o organizaciji in financiranju vzgoje in izobraževanja) and the Gimnazije Act (Zakon o gimnazijah) both adopted in February 1996 by the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, as well as Vocational Education Act (Zakon o poklicnem in strokovnem izobraževanju) from 2006, provide an adequate room for voluntary activities. In general secondary schools, organised voluntary (social) work is part of a compulsory elective contents (obvezne izbirne vsebine) and in vocational schools is optional compulsory elective content. Volunteering is also an optional activity in elementary schools.
The non-governmental organisation Slovene Philanthropy, Association for the Promotion of Voluntary Work, continues to provide schools with professional assistance for training volunteers under the national network.
Various aspects of volunteerism, but not specifically youth volunteering, are also regulated in other laws. In general, there are about 25 legal regulations that pertain to volunteers and volunteering. These include: Law on Social Security, Law on Organisations for People with Disabilities, Law on Humanitarian Organisations, The Law on the Red Cross in Slovenia, Law on Protection Against Natural Disasters, Law on Fire Brigades, Act on the Supply of Blood, Law on Labour Relations, Law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Act on Foreigners, The Law on Health Care and Health Insurance, etc. There are also specific regulations pertaining to volunteers in sports, culture, and social protection.
National Strategy for the development of non-governmental organisations and volunteering until 2023 (Strategija razvoja nevladnih organizacij in prostovoljstva do leta 2023) was adopted in May 2018. The main objectives addressed by the strategy are:
- establish a supportive environment for the functioning and development of NGOs;
- establish long-term funding NGOs;
- strengthen the role of NGOs in the planning and implementation of public policies at local and national level;
- strengthen the cooperation of NGOs and the economy and establish cross-sectoral partnerships (economy, NGOs, public administration);
- promote transparency, integrity and accountability of NGOs;
- promote solidarity and quality volunteering and the development of various forms of volunteering at local and national level.
The strategy barely includes youth and therefore cannot really be deemed as the youth volunteering strategy, however, it does systematically address volunteering in Slovenia as a whole.
In addition, the preparation of the National Strategy for the development of non-governmental sector and volunteering is in line with the following documents:
- Coalition Agreement on Cooperation in the Government of the Republic of Slovenia 2018-2022;
- partnership agreement between Slovenia and the European Commission 2014-2020 and Operational Programme for the implementation of European Cohesion Policy 2014–2020;
- Volunteering Act;
- Public administration development strategy 2015-2020;
- Strategy for Development of Local Self-Government;
- Strategic Framework of Slovenia 2050.
Ministry of Public Administration was responsible for the coordination of preparation of the National Strategy for the development of non-governmental sector and volunteering (Strategija razvoja nevladnih organizacij in prostovoljstva do leta 2023). The strategy was adopted by the National Assembly in 2018.
Relevant ministries report to the Office for Youth because monitoring and evaluation of the National Youth Strategy are under its jurisdiction. The interim report is to be submitted to the National Assembly every three years, whereas the final report is to be submitted after the expiry of the validity of the National Youth Programme. An evaluation (interim or final) of the Programme has yet to be performed.
The responsible public body for implementing the National Youth Strategy 2013-2022 (Resolucija o nacionalnem programu za mladino 2013‒2022) is the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth.
- The National Youth Strategy (Resolucija o nacionalnem programu za mladino 2013‒2022) containing references to youth volunteering has not yet been revised.
- National Strategy for the development of non-governmental sector and volunteering by 2023 (Strategija razvoja nevladnih organizacij in prostovoljstva do leta 2023) was adopted in March 2018 and has not yet been revised.
- The new Resolution on the national social assistance programme 2022-2030 (Resolucija o nacionalnem programu socialnega varstva za obdobje 2022-2030) is in preparation.