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Working Together for Local Integration of Migrants and Refugees in Vienna

image of Working Together for Local Integration of Migrants and Refugees in Vienna

Fast population growth in the city of Vienna is largely related to international migration.  Long-standing migrant communities represent half of Vienna’s population. In 2016, 50% of the inhabitants had migrant backgrounds, and since 2015, the number of refugees and asylum seekers in the city has increased. Since 1971, the city has developed dedicated administrative structures and local policies for migrants. A dedicated municipal unit (MA17) oversees how departments achieve migration-sensitive standards in their respective policy fields and produces the yearly Vienna Integration and Diversity monitoring report. A good practice is “Start Wien”,  a comprehensive coaching and information programme addressing newcomers (including asylum seekers) for the first two years after arrival. After that, foreign residents benefit from non-targeted measures, for instance from a programme fighting labour market exclusion of low-skilled groups. Vienna has avoided high segregation due to its large and well spread social housing. However migrants can only access it after five years of residency in the city, before which they rely on private rental market. Vienna establishes close contacts with migrant associations and NGOs at the district level and engages public consultations when formulating integration concepts. This report sheds light on how the municipality and non-state partners work together with the other levels of government for sustainable migrant and refugee integration.

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Block 3. Local capacity for policy formulation and implementation

As previously mentioned, the tasks of the Municipal Department for Integration and Diversity (MA 17) include a provision of information and advice concerning the implementation of diversity management in all parts of administration and monitoring of all municipal departments in the context of the diversity management measures. Since 2008 this includes assessing whether city services, staff policies and organisational structures have been adapted to mirror the ethnic, social and cultural diversity of Vienna. It analyses 43 departments and institutions observing general improvement over time. In its last analysis in 2016 it observed a positive tendency with a rising number of departments offering multi-lingual services as well as the number of departments embedding diversity management at their strategic level. It also observed that shares of employees of foreign origin in management positions and among youth remain fairly low. MA 17 observed that awareness-raising efforts are key to helping other departments understand the role that their work can play in advancing integration goals, and incorporating concrete targets into their plans. MA 17’s training offered to other municipal departments, combined with the monitoring exercise on diversity and integration, have been instrumental in convincing other practitioners working on diverse policy portfolios to put integration high in priority on their departments’ agendas.

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