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In Austria, probation tasks are carried out by Neustart

Neustart employs around 1,000 volunteers, with more volunteers than professionals. Volunteers are appointed and trained by the organization itself and are therefore part of the organization. The use of volunteers aims to achieve direct social inclusion and empowerment of clients and to better combat alienation from society. Volunteers provide guidance to probationers with a low risk of recidivism. This concerns approximately 30% of the supervisions. The volunteers have the same tasks as a paid probation worker but only supervise a few probationers. They are managed by an experienced professional (a team leader).

To hear more about daily work practice, we spoke with a volunteer and a probation officer. In addition to his work as a lawyer, he also works as a volunteer at Neustart. In Austria, volunteering is part of the way of life, he says. In addition to paid work, everyone also works unpaid. His caseload consists of approximately 5 clients for whom he schedules conversations and writes evaluations on his own initiative. Collaboration with the probation service is very organic and based on trust.

He says that no specific basic profile is necessary for a volunteer, but that involvement and empathy are important. Everyone who becomes a volunteer follows standard basic training.

The probation officer adds and says that her team leader screens the clients and according to some internal guidelines, clients are distributed to the volunteers. The tasks that a volunteer has can be performed freely by the volunteer. If you find it necessary to accompany the client to appointments, you can do so. If your client needs help calling authorities, you can also assist with this. The volunteers therefore have a large degree of personal interpretation.

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