The ÖVP Vorarlberg wants to oblige asylum seekers to do community service by signing. Even though that may sound harsh, this is finally a good suggestion! A thousand roses if the implementation works – because that could still be a problem…
Even if one or the other reflexively wants to cry, anyone who, as an asylum seeker, receives protection, assistance and benefits from the state will not be disappointed if his work is committed to the common good. Maintaining common green spaces or helping the elderly cross the street: such activities do not hurt any asylum seeker!
On the contrary. Nothing is more poisonous to young people in a foreign land than blandness and passivity. Who doesn’t come up with stupid ideas when you’re condemned to twiddle your thumbs day in and day out? If asylum seekers are not allowed to work regularly, there is no reason why they cannot get involved in charity work!
No integration course can do what non-profit work can do
Moreover, being together with Austrians can only promote a sense of belonging. No integration course is as good as integration into real reality, no German course is as good as daily interaction with people. This also applies the other way around: if asylum seekers become visible through charity work, prejudices will certainly quickly disappear.
What work should asylum seekers do?
The only stumbling block could be availability. First, the greatest care must be taken to clarify what work asylum seekers are allowed to do that does not endanger jobs, and an appropriate offer must also be created. Anything else would be harassment and unfair.
Integration conversation: better late than never
If this is successful in the Vorarlberg pilot project, this proposal has potential for national regulation. It remains to be hoped that the subject of integration can finally be discussed, away from the chatter about the election campaign. It feels like it’s a hundred years too late. But better late than never.
I am George Kunkel, an author working for Today Times Live. I specialize in opinion pieces and cover stories that are both informative and thought-provoking – helping to shape public discourse on key issues. My work is regularly featured across the network’s many platforms, including print media and social media.