House of the European Union, Vienna 23 September 2016
Dr. Monika Vana, Member of the European Parliament
Mag. Helmut Sax, Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights, Vienna
DSA Monika Pinterits, Lawyer for Children and Young Adults
Judith Schwentner, Member of the Austrian Parliament
Birgit Meinhard-Schiebel, Member of the City Council of Vienna
Chair Doris Eisenriegler, Chairwoman of the Austrian Green Seniors
The Green Seniors were guests at this event at the House of the European Union in Vienna. The venue of this event was already indicative of the global aspect of these issues. At the beginning, the participants in the panel made statements stressing the importance that the rights of children and elderly persons should be focused onequally.
Both groups are less involved in the production process and in decision making. Therefore, they are faced with discrimination which should be eliminated. Rights of children are already established in the United Nations, the rights of elderly persons, although mentioned in the Labour Law, are not comprising all of society yet. The members of the panel reported, from different perspectives, about their experiences and requests.
The members of the European Parliament, Dr. Monika Vana, of the Austrian Parliament, Judith Schwentner, and Birgit Meinhard-Schiebel of the City Council of Vienna agreed that there was increasing awareness of rights for children and older persons, a determination to abolish the shortages and a necessity for legal measures. At the same time, it surfaced that these efforts had to compete with other important topics in order to achieve urgent action and solutions.
Monika Pinterits, a certified social worker and lawyer for the rights of children and older persons, pointed to the fact that her institution itself was a contact point and gave incredible examples of her experiences. She stressed the threat for our society from right-wing political forces and the violent language in the social media, which conduces young people to adopt it and thus lead to increasing conflicts with the law. But she also criticized the fundamental approach by schools which are less and less able – due to their formalized teaching and communications – to reach children and young adults when entering into society.
The social researcher, Mag. Helmut Sax of the Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights described impressively how science is trying to gain insights, by dividing social processes into individual action and communication realities. Thus one can expectcollisions with the legal status or a consensus – leading to necessary amendments and reforms.
The dedicated insights into politics, practice and science have shown how little consensus there still exists regarding such rights for children and older persons, where they could obtain the safeguards for their development and the choice of means for their daily life. This was also the topic of the discussion with the audience, which partly gave impressive insights into the care for older persons. To fight for suchrights presupposes a detailed knowledge, and this poses a challenge for families, schools and media. The protection of rights and the claim to those, cannot be solved by abolishing discrimination, but has to happen within the nucleus of adults in society, so that children and older persons have the same claim to legal security and dignity.