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Migration and Home Affairs

Open Youth Work as a Methodology preventing and countering Extremism

  • Austria
Target Audience
  • Youth/pupils/students
key themes association
  • Alternative and counter narratives
  • Vulnerable youth and youth engagement in P/CVE
  • 2021


Association of Viennese Youth Centres

Verein Wiener Jugendzentren (the Association of Viennese Youth Centres) is a non-governmental organisation financed by the municipality of Vienna. The association employs roughly 300 staff (about 100 full-time), most of whom are youth workers operating directly in the field. It is one of the principal employers in social work in Vienna.

The range of activities incudes:

  • open youth work in youth-centres and youth clubs;
  • detached youth work;
  • training courses (particularly in creative arts like drama, dance and music);
  • counselling;
  • organising events (particularly in music and sport);
  • special programmes during holiday seasons, such as camps and international exchanges.

The target groups are young people aged between 6 and 21. The main focus of the project varies according to the needs of a given group. Typically, the age ranges are represented as follows: children: 6-9; juniors: 10-14; youth: 15-19; young adults: 20-24; and adults: 25+. Participation in every activity is voluntary and free of charge.

Type of Organisation: NGO

Project description

Open Youth Work in Vienna and Austria takes place in youth centres, youth clubs, drop-in centres and public spaces in the form of outreach work or detached youth work. It is declared policy that this municipal service should focus on socially disadvantaged children and young people. Another group attracted to this service has proved to be young people vulnerable to forms of extremism, chiefly religious radicalisation. For the Theory of Change of Open Youth Work in Vienna, youth work aims to 'enable young people' (adolescents).

The period of adolescence is no longer a protected period in which young people grow up largely unchallenged by economic compulsions, develop their identity and prepare for employment and adult life (usually predetermined by the family and its social status). Open Youth Work's key tasks are enabling self-expression and self-efficacy and creating an appreciative environment. This is the responsibility of the units.

Additionally, youth worker training covers recent aspects of radicalisation, and religious and political backgrounds. A strong network with other social work units as well as security departments has been established. Youth workers develop relationships with vulnerable youngsters through leisure activities of different kinds. Using a wide range of socio-pedagogical methods, youth workers provide both a practical perspective and (spiritual) orientation, without specifically supporting or diminishing any one religious approach.

Main lead in work is Human rights. In this way, youth workers try to provide an alternative narrative to counter the extremist narrative and disinformation targeted at young people, both online and offline. Young people actively approach youth workers with extremist content they have come across.

This is attributable to the trusting, non-hierarchical relationships youth workers maintain with young people. Conversely, youth workers proactively inform young people of significant changes. Sexuality, media literacy and migration were identified as topics that the affected young people found important. These are also areas that play a key role in identity development. Activities related to these topics were developed and are used in the open setting. These will be described separately.


Several general descriptions and outcomes of specific projects within the practice are available:

A description of the practices is available in German (see online). A detailed description of the approach is also available in English (see online).

Contact details


Association of Viennese Youth Centres
Pragerstraße 20,
1210 Wien

Contact person: Werner Prinzjakowitsch
Telephone: (+43) 1 278 76 45
w [dot] prinzjakowitschatjugendzentren [dot] at (Email) | Website

Read the full practice

Open Youth Work as a methodology preventing and countering extremism