It’s famed for its huge cultural range, and its wealth of mountains, lakes and forests: Upper Austria. As Austria’s third-largest federal state by population, however, Upper Austria does a great deal more than that: the region also makes an important contribution when it comes to battling criminality. Which is why people in need are provided with numerous offers of support throughout the region. Hope for the Future stands, amongst other things, for solidarity and cohesiveness. Which is why, while we naturally enjoy highlighting our own services, we also offer, through our blog, a well-earned platform for the numerous other organisations operating in Austria, the consultative and support work they do, and their dedicated teams. In this article, we take a look at Austria’s cultural laboratory – Upper Austria – by highlighting the work of several consultation and care centres in the Austrian state which 1.5 million people call home.
A SIGN OF HUMANITY
Taking courageous steps – together. The team from AURORA goes about its daily work, supporting people who are currently working in prostitution, or who have been, with this guiding principle in mind. The organisation focuses on two areas in particular when doing this: its efforts to develop an Austria-wide platform offering multilingual advice for those affected, and a transitional housing project for sex workers. This latter programme is specifically designed to be available to women seeking to realise their desire to escape the sex industry. During their stay, the women in question are cared for by social workers, and accompanied as they begin reorienting themselves to working life. Inequality and exploitation are completely out of the question for AURORA, of course, one reason why the social initiative is committed to protecting and strengthening the rights of its female clients. Unfortunately, discrimination, stigmatisation and psychological and physical pressure remain part of every life for many of the people impacted, and AURORA offers an oasis of acceptance and appreciation precisely tailored to the needs of the women.
The independent not-for-profit organisation SOS-Menschenrechte (“SOS Human Rights”) has been dedicated to safeguarding human rights since 1993. In Upper Austria alone, the organisation has 25 employees, as well as two young people doing civilian national service, and a wide range of highly-motivated volunteers.
They work together to achieve an open, tolerant and solidly united society. This is an organisation which respects the rights and opportunities of every single person. As far as working methods are concerned, therefore, the focus at this organisation is not just on caring for and accompanying refugees, but also on doing educational work. In doing this, anti-discrimination and human rights training projects are brought visibly closer to the fellow residents of Upper Austria. One of the best examples of this is the “Stand Up! Human Rights in Practice“ project. At workshops on this project, a creative and informative emphasis is placed on relevant themes including democracy, civic courage, equal treatment and others.
A FUTURE ON YOUR OWN TERMS
From its offices at the heart of Linz, FAB – Verein zur Förderung von Arbeit und Beschäftigung (“Organisation for the Promotion of Work and Employment”) stands by the side of job seekers entering the work market, completely irrespective of their gender, skin colour, language, religion, and ethnic or social origin. The aim of doing this is to promote a united and inclusive society which welcomes everyone. The not-for-profit organisation specialises in supporting socially or physically disadvantaged people as they are integrated into the job market – with the help of a range of offers of advice, further training and much more besides.
SOLWOLDI Linz, the German-language acronym for the organisation “Solidarity for Women in Distress” (“Solidarität für Frauen in Not”), focuses on women in difficult life situations, and is actively dedicated to maintaining human dignity in the Upper Austria region. The organisation also supports and advises female victims of human trafficking. From short-term crisis interventions through to medium- or long consultative processes, professional help in physical stabilisation and developing new life perspectives, the advice centre offers a wide range of services and provides an important pillar for women as they make their way towards a future they themselves have defined.
FOCUS ON TOLERANCE AND EQUALITY
This is a place for the world to come together: the inter-cultural meeting centre Arcobaleno. No matter where somebody comes from, their skin colour or religion, the association works actively to counter disadvantages, break down negative images and reduce barriers such as language problems or a lack of information. How does Arcobaleno do this? With the help of informative advice and a wide range of integration measures, as well as offers of training and accompaniment during leisure time. In this way, we can all learn – from one another and with one another – what humanity and tolerance are all about. That’s why Arcobaleno is increasingly concentrating on offering events for migrants AND local residents. Because at Arcobaleno, everyone is welcome.
And speaking of migrants… The organisation maiz also works intensively to strengthen the rights of migrants, offering a wide variety of services, including anonymous and partisan advice. That’s far from all they do, however; maiz also offers a well thought-through range of training courses for migrant women and young people, as well as artistic and cultural productions. In addition to this, maiz is dedicated to the “Sex & Work” sector. More precisely, the maiz team struggles against the stigmatisation, discrimination and criminalisation of people in the sex industry. The key word here is “self-empowerment”, with the needs of sex workers always being prioritised. As a result, the focus at maiz is also strongly on the working rights and conditions of people employed in the sex industry in Upper Austria, in the “Sex & Work” sector.
It’s plain to see: Upper Austria is not just rich in beautiful natural landscapes, it is also home to a wide and diverse range of incredibly important organisations. And we say: keep up the good work!
Translation by Tim Martinz-Lywood, European Exchange Ltd.
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