Vienna: policy innovation and monitoring – the keys for managing diversity in 21st century

Vienna, Austria 2-3 June 2016
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Vienna: policy innovation and monitoring – the keys for managing diversity in 21st century

On 2 and 3 June 20 representatives of cities members of the ICC network, including a Mayor and councilors, took part in a study visit to Vienna which showcased Vienna’s pioneering approach to diversity and inclusion. The city has 27% foreign residents and 50% of the population have at least one parent born abroad. The local authorities have a strong “diversity advantage” discourse, and invest a great deal in diversity management – the integration office has 65 employees. Particularly instructive were the following experiences:

  • The European primary school where each pupil is exposed, in the course of 3 years, to 18 languages (European and non-European) and to a holistic intercultural and multilingual pedagogy. The school is located in a disadvantaged neighborhood but has excellent results, which demonstrates the educational value of the intercultural approach and the multilingual classroom.
  • The Diversity monitor – a statistics-based report on the well-being of Viennese citizens which reveals specific challenges and serves as a basis for policy initiatives. For example a special school for 15-18 year old migrant children was created when the report showed that the reason many of these children dropped out of education was that the existing offer was not adapted to their needs and age group.
  • The SpaceLab – an innovative youth employment initiative based on detached youth work and experiential learning and vocational training. After 3 months 33% of young people, who had previously dropped out of school, were in education of jobs
  • The anti-radicalisation strategy targeting all kinds of radicalisation – which involves a large network of institutions monitoring the situation and working together towards de-radicalisation: the school board, the municipal department of the open youth work, youth welfare, probation and labour integration office, the police etc, Members are individuals who are focal points, are committed and personally concerned. Their task is to make sure that the institutions they represent follow up radicalisation alerts with general and case-specific measures.
  • The Vienna city museum which is organising regularly events and debates about different diversity-related themes connected to current affairs (eg the EURO championship) and using objects from their collection, to reinforce the diversity memory, pride and resilience of the city.
  • The human rights and diversity engagement of the Viennese police. All officers go through mandatory human rights & diversity training. A new “Vienna needs you” initiavies encourages people of migrant background to join the police, including a preparatory course for potential candidates. A forum with NGOs and other actors helps the police to develop a more systematic approach to human rights. A new neighborhood police project called "safety together" encourages civilians to get involved in safety - they get training, an insight into police work etc. The Police use Facebook and Twitter during demonstrations as an anti-rumour tool.
  • The adoption of a declaration on Vienna – a human rights city, and the setting up of a human rights office to make sure that everyone has access to rights and discrimination is combatted in every way.

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