Social orientation in Austria
Social orientation courses are offered on a national level by the by the Austrian Integration Fund (Österreichsicher Integrationsfonds, ÖIF). Basic issues of social orientation are included into German language courses, while in depth courses offers more specific information about freedom of opinion, gender equality, the functioning of the healthcare and educational system and the rule of law.
The legal framework for social orientation differs between asylum seekers, protection status holders and third country nationals, who are migrants. Asylum seekers are not obliged to participate in social orientation and language courses, while protection status holders and third country nationals with a residence permit are. The courses are not cost -free, but the government offers vouchers to migrants, who have successfully passed these courses.
Critics say that the content of these courses euphemise the Austrian culture and values, such as pointing out that tolerance towards LGBTI people is a core Austrian value, while this is not the reality. The courses also provide detailed information about the behavioural rules and duties (e.g. shaking hands, being on-time, waste separation, being quiet on Sundays, etc.) but provide only little information about participants’ rights and how to enforce them (e.g. while gender equality and the prohibition of gender discrimination plays an important role in the courses, the prohibition of ethnic discrimination does not).