Advising the Education, Youth, Integration and Transparency business group
Vienna (OTS/RK) – GR Nikolaus Kunrath (GREEN) began with praise for the city’s integration and diversity monitor. There you can read that 62 percent of the Viennese immigrants who moved here have a high school diploma or a degree, so the level of education has clearly increased. 47 percent of the hours worked in Vienna are carried out by people with a migration background. He also sees differences in the use of living space: people in Vienna without any migration background have 43.4 square meters per capita, while third-country nationals only have just over 28 square meters per capita. When it comes to citizenship, the City of Vienna has the opportunity not only to align access with legal regulations, but also to facilitate these at its discretion. For Kunrath, it is absurd that there is a rule in citizenship procedures that states that a roommate is not entitled to citizenship if someone in the shared apartment has received social assistance. Kunrath gave an example: A third-country national and illiterate woman was denied residence in Vienna after 16 years because she did not have basic language skills, and was also given a penalty order by the MA 35 because she had not complied with the integration agreement. “It’s actually a problem in this country, how we deal with such people,” said Kunrath.
GR Dr. Kurt Stürzenbecher (SPÖ) said that the MA 35’s organizational development process was “developing well”. Not everything is perfect yet, but progress is already visible. For example, at the call center for immigration, where the duration of the procedure has been reduced by more than a quarter. The MA 35 telephone service center was launched in October 2021, and in 2023 from January to October, 230,000 calls were received there and more than a million minutes of telephone calls were made. The average waiting time for a call in this area this year was 24 seconds, said Stürzenbecher. Improvements can also be seen in citizenship, where the number of applications has risen sharply in recent years. Stürzenbecher suspected that the current events in the Middle East would lead to a further influx – “it’s really understandable that people want to leave there”.
GRin Mag. Berivan Aslan (GREEN) said that good reforms are only possible with appropriate financial resources. What use is the best integration policy if MA 35 has such problems with implementation, asked Aslan. It must be a “matter of course” that an authority would contact the applicant if there are still unanswered questions. Despite reform announcements two years ago, applicants still have to wait a year for an appointment. What is needed is a “humane authority” that does not let citizens down – “that is doable,” Aslan assumed. Three months ago she became a mother for the second time and she is grateful that this child was born in the heart of Europe: “It is a privilege and by no means a given.” They submitted an application regarding the admission of children and babies from Gaza who would need hospital care. Living with human dignity in Vienna would not work if you only allied with Jews when they were attacked. That requires more attitude – “we can only do that if we speak out openly and courageously against all enemies of democracy,” said Aslan.
GRin Mag. Ursula Berner, MA (GREENS) brought up the topic of family protection. Early help has been expanded, mobile social work has been implemented and a strategy has been created to increase the number of parents in crisis – the city government has announced this, but other reports such as those from the city auditor’s office do not show this. Reports of danger among children have increased significantly in recent years, but unfortunately the numbers are not expected to decrease in the next few years. The most important measure is to increase staff. The figures on the expected staffing levels only show the management of deficiencies.” Berner demanded: “Instead of investing 100,000 euros in electric cars for the municipal department, this money could be used to increase staff.” The FPÖ accused Berner of a “disgusting approach” in the case of a crisis center in the Danube city that had hit the headlines.
VBgm Christoph Wiederkehr, MA (NEOS) was pleased that there was a solid budget for the business group. The increase of 16 percent is not a given, but in times like these the importance of the education budget must be particularly emphasized. Additional measures and investments are absolutely necessary in a growing and rejuvenating city. In the area of integration, it shows how important peaceful coexistence in the city with immigration is. It is important to “look closely” at the figures, such as the fact that the educational qualifications of immigrants have increased in recent years. However, we need to address the issue of dealing with the basic values of our society, “the topic is too serious for that, and in my opinion a national convention is necessary to create a common basis.” For him, pluralism belongs to the city, a value that is apparently not shared by the ÖVP, suggested Wiederkehr. In addition to this discussion, joint structural measures are also necessary. One could demand that parents be involved in integration work; If they don’t do this, youth work in Vienna would now step in. However, the city cannot take measures such as sanctions against unwilling people on its own; there must be joint initiatives by the federal and state governments, which has been achieved, for example, with the regulation of catching up on compulsory school qualifications. The city’s programs such as the youth college and the free summer German courses should also be further expanded. Here, too, there needs to be the possibility of imposing sanctions if people are unwilling to learn German. However, the most important key to successful integration remains good, targeted education. That’s why he’s pleased about the increase in funding for all-day elementary schools in the budget, for example. If educational standards are to be improved, funding for educational structures should also be increased, demanded Wiederkehr. External educational opportunities also need to be increased; the city of Vienna has earmarked a budget for this. The strictest child protection throughout Austria will continue, and other federal states will follow Vienna as an example in this area. Regarding citizenship: There have been significant improvements in reducing the length of the procedure and these reforms will continue, Wiederkehr announced.
The local council’s debate on the double budget for 2024 and 2025 was interrupted at 9:41 p.m. Tomorrow the debates on the other departments and the votes will follow. The town hall correspondence will report tomorrow, Tuesday, as usual. (cont.) nic
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