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Public Interest in Youth Sector Act defines a youth organisation as an autonomous, democratic, volunteer and independent association of youth, which with its operation enables young people to gain planned learning experience, form and express their viewpoints and implement their activities in accordance with their interest, cultural, principle or political orientation, and is organised as an independent legal entity, namely as a society or an association of societies or as an integral part of another legal entity, namely a society, an association of societies, a trade union or a political party providing that the autonomy of operation in the youth sector has been ensured by the basic act of this legal entity. The National Youth Council of Slovenia is an umbrella youth organisation that includes 14 youth NGOs (12 full and two associate members). It represents youth interest in relation to national and international authorities. The National Youth Council is regulated by the Youth Council Act. This Act regulates the status, operation, activities and financing of the National Youth Council of Slovenia and local community youth councils. The main principles of unification for the National Youth Council and for the local youth councils are set out in the third paragraph of Article 2, which stipulates that association in the National Youth Council of Slovenia and local community youth councils shall be based on the principles of freedom of association, equality and mutual respect of autonomy of every youth organisation. According to the same piece of legislation, the National Youth Council of Slovenia and local community youth councils represent the interests of youth organisations, which are their members. The National Youth Organisation is a voluntary organisation whose majority leadership and membership represents young people aged between 14 and 29 years old. It is organised and operates on a national level, and has a large number of members organised into local units. Its purpose is to represent and develop the interests of young people, pursue youth work in accordance with the statutes of the organisation and encourage young people’s integration and participation in society. In Slovenia there are 13 national youth organisations with the status of organisation in the public interest:
- Združenje slovenskih katoliških skavtinj in skavtov
- Slovenska demokratska mladina SDM
- Društvo mladinski ceh
- Zveza študentskih klubov Slovenije
- Mlada Slovenija
- Zveza tabornikov Slovenije
- Mladi forum SD
- Planinska zveza Slovenije, Mladinska komisija
- Nova generacija SLS
- Zveza slovenske podeželske mladine
- Mladinska zveza Brez izgovora Slovenija
- Gasilska zveza Slovenije – Mladinski svet
- Sindikat študentov, dijakov in mladih brezposelnih
The issue of funding of Youth Councils is regulated in the Youth Council Act. Article 7 stipulates The National Youth Council and the local community youth councils shall obtain funds for their operation: - from the budget of the Republic of Slovenia and the budgets of local communities based on a submitted programme - with a membership fee - from property rights - with gifts and bequests - from donations - from own activities - from any other sources.
Through its given status of operating in the public interest, an individual organisation has access to different instruments (including financial) in the youth sector. Public funds are obtained in the invitation to tender and a public call from the Office for Youth. The main support to youth organisations is carried out through a public tender for co-financing of the programmes in the youth sector (Articles 17–24 of the Public Interest in Youth Sector Act). The Public Interest in Youth Sector Act states in Article 17 that the programmes in the youth sector shall be co-financed based on the National Programme for Youth. The public call shall be used for the programmes in the youth sector implemented by:
- organisations in the youth sector with the status of organisations in the public interest in the youth sector
- youth councils
- public institutes operating in the youth sector.
The financial sources shall be allocated to the programmes, which are assessed or evaluated the highest in the selection procedure. For co-financing the programmes in the youth sector at a local level, the provisions of the Public Interest in Youth Sector Act shall apply mutatis mutandis. Funding at the local level is less systematic and depends ‘on the good will’ of decision-makers in each local community. Invitations to tender are usually for youth organisations. It then depends on how much the local community’s youth policies are developed; whether the invitation to tender aims to achieve a specific goal or just supports the activities of youth organisations in general. The Youth Council Act enables financial support for local youth councils. Annually, an officially published tender for NGO’s provides support for programmes and projects in the field of youth participation.
In accordance with the National Programme for Youth, the authorities have set the goal to increase social inclusion of youth with fewer opportunities. However, there is no specific provision for including underrepresented groups (e.g., youth Roma, the disabled) in the youth organisations.
There are some individual ‘missions’ to contribute to building a cohesive society by integrating socially excluded groups. For example, the ‘Association for Developing Voluntary Work Novo Mesto’ (Društvo za razvijanje prostovoljnega dela Novo mesto) is including Roma children. The youth centre Infopeka and Humanitas – Centre for Global Learning and Cooperation include young migrants as co-creators of their programme.