SozialRechtsNetz

2,000 Euro Prize 2020

Country: Austria

Region: throughout Austria

Sector: Civil Society / Social Economy

Fields of action: Poverty, Awareness raising, Legal protection

Project owner: Die Armutskonferenz

Responsible person: Alexandra Humer

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Challenge

Austria has an established welfare system, but social rights are still not recognized as human rights enforced by the constitution. In addition, many people − especially those at risk and affected by poverty− do not know what rights they have, despite its importance in times of welfare state cutbacks.

Idea

Through free legal representation for marginalised communities, as well as continuing training and networking of practitioners and lawyers, an equal opportunity and effective access to social rights in Austria is possible. Leading decisions of the courts of law can consequently have an impact beyond the individual case.

Actors

SozialRechtsNetz (“Social Rights Network”) reaches people affected by and at risk of poverty in Austria as well as social legal actors such as social and legal advisors, lawyers and judges. In addition to free legal representation, the work offered by our organization enables an exchange and knowledge transfer between these marginalized communities and across all socio-legal support networks.

Impact

The project empowers individuals to assert and enforce their legal claims. It also raises awareness of the social rights and responsibility of the state to make this support accessible to all. Improved legal enforcement of social rights and legal security contribute to poverty prevention and reduction.

Transfer

A drop-in centre for social legal exchange and judicial representation can be implemented in other regions by mediating networks between those affected and experts. The results of legal representation can make an essential contribution to developing a unified jurisdiction.

Appreciation of the Jury

SozialRechtsNetz works to guarantee the legal enforcement of social human rights such as health care, social security, housing, education, and food. With the help of social innovative interventions across multiple socio-legal actors: "strategic individual petitions" by communities in poverty boost legal representation through equal jurisdiction. Communities and individuals become active and visible together with lawyers and additional support. This strengthens public awareness and makes it easier to enforce social human rights, thus supporting a society based on solidarity.