“Fixed basis instead of project financing”: Girls’ advice centres want planning security

“Fixed basis instead of project financing”: Girls’ advice centres want planning security
“Fixed basis instead of project financing”: Girls’ advice centres want planning security

The cases are becoming more and more complex and the problems more intertwined.

Sophie Hansal, managing director of the network of Austrian women’s and girls’ counseling centers, said this on Tuesday. Above all, however, there is a need for fixed basic funding rather than project funding, and thus finally planning security. The situation is critical and the increase in the need for long-term help is “alarming,” Hansal explained.

The network represents 64 women’s and girls’ counseling centers in all federal states; there are more than 150 such institutions in total. A third of girls and young women are “dissatisfied with their lives” and the number of psychiatric diagnoses in the target group has increased, she said, citing an increase of around 30 percent in eating disorders since the pandemic as an example. The cases are becoming more complex and the problems more intertwined, and 93 percent of young women between the ages of 16 and 24 feel that politicians do not take them seriously.

Very early over-indebtedness

“Multi-problem situations also lead to problems with housing,” explained Katharina Nickel from Women for Women (Lower Austria). Around a third of all homeless women in Austria are girls and women under 24 years of age. Many of them get into debt at a very early age and can no longer afford high rents. In addition, they experience violence and, as a result, often abandon training and lack social networks.

Up to now, care concepts have mostly been tailored to women “who can already live independently and can get back on their feet with less care,” says Nickel. For the target group of very young women, on the other hand, “more care and more effort are often necessary” for the path to independence. However, there are currently hardly any concepts for this.

  • From the archive: “Women often cannot afford to leave violent relationships” (OÖNplus)

Problems of homelessness, poverty and violence

The young female clients are often so stressed “that they cannot concentrate on their career or training,” said Martina Fürpass from Sprungbrett (Vienna), referring to problems such as homelessness, poverty and violence. In addition, they are much more likely than boys to do unpaid “care work” in the family, which also prevents the situation from improving. “But with close advice and long-term support, they manage better.”

The experts agreed that this requires planning security, instead of having to apply for funding every year. At the moment, “unlike the violence protection centers, for example, it is not guaranteed that the work can be continued to the same extent,” explained Hansal. This means that the facilities cannot offer real job security. Although the available funds were increased in 2023, before that “there had been no expansion for decades.” The one-off increase was “an urgent response to the past years and decades.” The demand to make funds available in the long term, including for prevention work, is aimed at the future government: “Advisory work is not project work, but that is how the work is currently financed,” said Hansal.

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