The Kinderfreundliche Gemeinden (Child Friendly Communities) initiative in Austria has been active since 2013. The objective of the initiative and the Child Friendly Community recognition is to underline the importance of making child-friendly decisions at the local level, where children are most affected.
The Austrian Child Friendly Communities initiative is centred around seven thematic areas: 1) child-friendly administration; 2) child participation; 3) health; 4) leisure; 5) family and school care; 6) safety (for example, child and youth protection, traffic, playgrounds); and 7) education.
A municipality that wishes to be recognized as child-friendly conducts a situation analysis through local consultation to assess the existing child rights measures in place. New needs-based measures are then developed by a project group together with representatives from all stakeholders and generations to address needs. In order to be recognized as child-friendly, the municipality must plan to act on at least three measures which fall under the seven thematic priorities, within a timeframe of three years.
The recognition audit process is carried out in collaboration with the non-profit organization ”Familie und Beruf Management GmbH”, which provides guidance and best practices, supports the municipalities during the consultation phase, offers support for public relations activities and assesses the implementation of the measures.
The recognition is granted by UNICEF Austria for a period of three years. The recognition can be renewed for another three years, if the local government commits to improving the implementation of children’s rights in the future.
Currently, 200 municipalities in Austria are participating in the initiative.
Advocacy & Child rights
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Gabersdorf – the first recognized child-friendly municipality in Austria
The municipality of Gabersdorf in Styria was the first to be recognized as a ”child-friendly community” by UNICEF Austria. Harmonious relationships between the generations are a top priority in Gabersdorf.
Mayor Franz Hierzer expressed his satisfaction with the community’s development of needs-based measures: ”The audit process is an innovative instrument to increase quality of life together with the citizens and thus strenghten their bonds to the community.”
Some examples of the implemented measures include:
- Health: Tailor-made sport and fitness opportunities for girls including Zumba, HipHop and a fitness trail.
- Leisure: Improvement of the holiday leisure programme through a ”holiday pass” which promotes and expands offers on leisure activities.
- Leisure/family and school care: New space for youth and funding for a youth worker, who runs regular activites for youth.
- Leisure/education: Expansion of education and leisure opportunities through lectures and courses: more attractive possibilities for further education, for parents for example, in the community.
- Child-friendly administration: Contact person for youth in the municipal administration or local council, who represents and advocates for youth with decision makers in the community and the local council.
- Safety: Increased speed controls to reduce the risk of traffic accidents.