Social life and leisure in Austria


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What is the role of associations and clubs for refugees and migrants?

There are various associations that support migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. Many of them have a religious background such Caritas or Diakonie. However they are open to other cultures and groups independently from their religion. There are also some NGOs (= non-governmental organisations) without  any religious approach such as the Red Cross. The government offers programmes for support and also for people who are interested in helping migrants. Main aim of all is integration on the basis of human rights. Initiators of these organisations are manifold. There are also organizations run by migrants themselves.

One project should be mentioned here: CoMiDe was a project (2011-2014) on initiatives for migration and development. One of its’ activites was to give an overview on the network on migration issues. Although the project has ended by now useful contacts can still be found: .

Look down on the list for further examples of different associations.

The associations offer services such as consultation on different issues: possibilities of language courses, cultural customs, practical information on how to apply for financial support, to find a job or a place to stay – in other words to get settled.

There are different institutions that focus on different target groups, for example: migrants seeking for asylum, those being under the status of subsidiary protection (individuals whose application for asylum has been refused, and whose lives are still at risk in their country of origin), unattended underaged refugees, recognized refugees. Some organizations offer services explicitly for women.

What are leisure activities and how can I benefit in taking part in leisure activities?

Leisure activities are activities done in free time, when not in school or at work. These activities can bring benefits to your general wellbeing. Leisure activities may also have a great positive impact for integration and to build up a social network.

Different associations offer leisure activities such as sports courses or creative occupation (cooking, music etc.).

In Austria it is quite common to be a member in associations (sports, music, voluntary fire brigade, Red Cross etc.). It is totally legitimate and  is advisable to visit one of the associations that offer courses not necessarily for migrants only but generally for everyone.

Certainly – sometimes a lot of courage is needed as for example the language barrier may be a hesitation factor. This shows how important it is to learn German for feeling comfortable in Austria. To participate in leisure associations is a good opportunity to practice and improve your German skills.  


  1. What type of activities do diaspora and migrant associations do?

It can be anything from educational activities language courses (English, German or migrant’s mother tongue like Arabic, Wolof or Mandinke), recreation activities, cultural mediation to housing support or job counseling for the newly arrived migrants.

  1. Can I participate in sports clubs activities?

Yes, you are free to participate in any leisure or sports activity. There are many examples of good practices especially when it comes to refugee football clubs.

  1. What benefits can bring the membership in a diaspora or other association?

Your active membership in an association can foster your socialization with the local community, improve communication with the institutions and encourage intercultural dialogue.

  1. Can migrants and refugees volunteer in Austria?

Yes, volunteering is highly recommended to integrate into Austrian society and to improve German language skills.

  1. Do all migrants have access to leisure activities?

Generally all migrants have access to leisure activities. Depending on the institutions offering the activities there are different conditions for participating. However, economic, logistic, or language barriers might impede practical participation.

Language courses for refugees and migrants

The Austrian Fund for Integration offers different language courses, some with a focus on specific professions. Support in education and profession is the main focus.

Funds for participants are granted under certain prerequisites: Those entitled to be granted asylum and subsidiary protection (within the first three years of approval) are able to apply for funds. Migrants may receive funds from the job market service (Arbeitsmarktservice AMS). Within certain projects of the Austrian Fund for Integration fees are paid. Migrants working and living in Vienna may receive other options of support.

Some links to German Language courses for migrants:

Refugees. Wien

Information about how to sign up for German Language courses as asylum seeker or person granted protection in the capital Vienna.

List of all German Language courses available

The Austrian Fund for Integration and the Austrian Institute provide a list of all institutions in Austria offering German Language courses. You can search on the web site for institutions in your area.

German courses in the capital Vienna

The city of Vienna provides information about German language courses offered for migrants.

Learn German Online

Some learning platforms to learn German vocabulary and grammar online.

Learn German Online for Arabic speaking people

Some learning platforms to learn German vocabulary and grammar online for Arabic speaking people.


German Language learning game from Goethe Institute

“Lern Deutsch – Stadt der Wörter” is an online-game for german as a foreign language on the level A1 developed by Goethe Institute. It is for free and you can play it on your mobile device or PC.

Materials for Teaching and Learning German


Intercultural dialogue and coexistence

(source: CORE- Integration im Zentrum:


Play Together Now

 The association organises leisure activities for young people. Football is played several times a week in Vienna and Schwechat. The creative potential of young people is promoted in a theatre and dance group.

Chess unlimited

Besides other activities, the association organizes chez tournaments where “old” and “new” Viennese can meet. This way the famous game serves as a universal language and enables understanding.

Ankommen in Wien

The project accompanies Farsi-speaking refugees so that they can arrive in Vienna in a self-determined life. Volunteers prepare meetings with authorities with the refugees and accompany theme to these meetings.

You are Welcome

The association offers, among others, German language groups, organizes cultural and sports activities and operates its own trauma centre. In addition it campaigns for the breaking down of fears and prejudices.

Neuer Start

The association aims to make it easy for young refugees to integrate into Austrian society, the educational system and the labour market and to support them in a successful new start.

ANR – Austrian Network for Refugees

The association is a central point of contact for refugees and people  from society willing to help and aims to contribute to making refugees feel welcome and at home in Austria.

Akademie der Zivilgesellschaft

The academy of civil society in Vienna Adult Education Centre supports people in starting their own volunteer project in Vienna in improving a project that is already ongoing.


KAMA organizes courses, which are guided by refugees and migrants. These courses can be joined by interested people who only have to give a free donation. In this way encounters and exchanges as equals become possible.


To arrive successfully in Austria health plays an important role. For education and the ability to work posttraumatic stress must be overcome. The association organizes a low threshold, culturally sensitive programme.


ÖSGEV provides Somali people, who live in Austria with information and consulting. It supports people to exchange with each other and is also a contact point for Austrians, who want to know more about Somalia and its people.

Afghan Wulas

The association supports refugees regarding topics like education, integration, culture and cohabitation. Besides it helps with information about the asylum procedure, public institutions and it organizes lectures and cultural events.

Afro Asiatic Institute in Salzburg

International culture events, language courses, public debates, presentations and readings are examples of successful intercultural encounters. The AAI´s educational and cultural programme focuses on the concerns and manifold resources in experience and knowledge of people from the Global South.


Association of African Students in Austria.


Initiatives for migrant women

(source: CORE- Integration im Zentrum:


VMS Verein der Migrantinnen zum Sonnenschein

In the woman´s association, women of different nationalities and religions support woman refugees and child refugees in integration. It is thus also to make a contribution against racism.

Nachbarinnen in Wien

Nachbarinnen extend their hand for support, they open doors in order to show disadvantaged families the path to a more diverse life so that they can travel it alone in the future.

Kasimir and Henriette

Woman refugees meet each week to sew recycled material rucksacks and other textiles and to embellish them with handicrafts from their home country.

Black women’s community

The community run by black women of different ethical and religious backgrounds aims to foster self-confidence, self-determination and integration into the Austrian society.



Sources, further information & links

Different initiatives for integration: