The voluntary social year in Austria and Germany (German Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr, abbr. FSJ) is a state-funded voluntary work program particularly for young adults. It can last between six and eighteen months and also be spent working abroad.
The idea behind this voluntary social year has its origin in the Protestant and Roman Catholic church by organizing a diaconical year. In 1964 the German parliament conducted a law, that became the basis of the platform, that supplies officially certified organizations and government institutions with volunteers.
Possible locations are numerous and are all social, charitable or of public utility.
Due to the existing conscription for military service in Austria, since 2016 the voluntary social year is an alternative service to the compulsory service in the Austrian Armed Forces. Before conscription was abandoned in Germany in 2011, the FSJ could be used as an alternative service as well.
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