Start Wien: Help Migrants Settle In and Facilitate Their Integration In Vienna
Vienna is a city of immigration: 20% of the population have a nationality other than Austrian, 11% of the citizens were not born in Austria but have been naturalised, 13% have at least one parent who was born abroad, i.e. 44% of the Viennese population have a migration background.
The first two years are crucial for the successful integration of people who migrate to Vienna. To have a good start in a new country, it is vital to learn the language, to know about the structures and systems, and to know your rights and duties but also to feel welcome and have equal rights as a new member of society.
The City of Vienna aims to support new migrants with efficient measures in the first few months and years after their arrival. The City provides sustainable long-term measures to facilitate good relations between all citizens in Vienna.
New migrants are provided with the most important information about life in Vienna as early as possible to help them find their way around Vienna. This is a also an advantage for public authorities because the Start Wien project provides new migrants with vital information and they do not have to contact authorities, advice centres, and other institutions individually, and already know who to contact for specific inquiries. New migrants get information about complex and difficult legal regulations in their mother tongues and can, for example, avoid problems with the extension of their resident permits. The best suitable German language classes are chosen for each new migrant, which is a good motivation to learn German quickly.
Goals of the Initiative
Start Wien is a programme for migrants to help them settle in and facilitate their integration in Vienna. Start Wien consists of a number of measures for migrants to find their way around Vienna, live independently, and participate in society as well as in the economic, cultural, and political life of the city as quickly as possible.
What were the strategies used to implement the project/practice?
Reaching the target group immediately after their arrival in Vienna – the project has been developed in close cooperation with the Immigration Department of the City of Vienna. New migrants should use the offers of Start Wien immediately after receiving their first residence permit in the form of a one stop shop. A joint database provides for the quick transfer of data to issue the Vienna Education Booklet, invoicing the Vienna language vouchers, recording the attendance of German language classes and information modules, and compiling statistical data throughout the duration of the project.
Considering the individual needs of each migrant and the diversity of the target group – in cooperation with the course providers, German language courses are continuously adapted to meet the needs of the migrants (e.g. courses for young people, courses for women with childcare, courses for poorly educated people, courses for highly skilled migrants, etc.). Staff members, who work in the project, have a migration background and a high intercultural competence. They know the systems and structures in the countries of origin as well as those in Vienna and Austria.
Introducing an instrument for the quick and simple exchange of information between authorities, organisations, and institutions that are responsible for migrants during the first few years after their arrival in Vienna – joint development of the Vienna Education Booklet where all important courses are recorded to see at one glance which steps and measures would be feasible and should be recommended next (German language skills, advice received, recognition of qualifications acquired abroad, (further) training classes, overview of qualifications acquired abroad, and job experience)
Reducing unnecessary contacts with authorities and appointments with advice centres – by providing new migrants with relevant information in their mother tongues quickly and efficiently (e.g. school registration of children, childcare institutions, entry into the labour market, legal regulations for the extension of residence permits, healthcare, important emergency numbers, recommended vaccinations, labour law regulations, support for pregnant women, intercultural communication in everyday life, waste separation, and much more)
What direct benefits were or are being brought to the city?
New migrants feel welcome and appreciated from the moment of their arrival, which contributes to the good neighbourly relations and positive climate in the city.
The comprehensive information package facilitates the easy and prompt participation of migrants in society. It is a great advantage for new migrants to get to know the structures and systems in their mother tongues at first. It is also an advantage for the City Administration because well-informed clients know which department or office to contact for specific inquiries. Or sometimes they already have all the information they need before making an application. New migrants tend to be happier and feel that they belong if they attend the best suitable German language classes, know what to do in a specific situation, know who to ask, and get in touch with other new migrants.
10,000 Vienna Education Booklets have been issued so far, and 20,000 people have participated in the information modules. The Start Wien project has reached 86% of the target group even though the participation in the programme is voluntary.