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LJILJANA MARKOVIĆ: Empowering Youth with Behaviour Issues
From the 29th Belgrade Ignite “Get Involved 2” speech (21 October 2014, Mixer House, Belgrade)

This evening I would like to show you what it’s like being a juvenile delinquent and what it means to bear the label “problem child”.

With my IAN colleagues I run a day-care for children with behaviour issues, licenced by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy as a service in the field of social protection. We have chosen to work with teenagers, because we believe in change and the children who come to us.

Have you encountered a problem child, one with behaviour issues? How did you react? Were you scared, did you want to reject them, punish then at any cost, or did you shut your eyes? These are the usual reactions to such children. There are various theories as to why behaviour issues occur, but this evening we will not talk about that, instead, I will focus on something I’ve noticed through my experience in working with these children: they are, usually, experiencing growing-up crises we all have, but everyone deals with them differently. (...)

Children with behaviour issues have needs and interests like all other children. I’ll just give an example of a boy for whom our support was very important. He was referred from the Social Work Centre due to a special obligation as part of the corrective measure issued by court. He came to us saying: “Well, okay, I’m this old, I’ve done the following things, I went through the court procedure, I’ve got a police record and no high school education. Who will accept me, who will employ me, what future do I have?” At that moment, he only saw himself in the world of crime. After two years of us working with him, through professional empowerment and the development of social skills, the boy regained his self-confidence, his self-assurance. Now he is working, he found a job himself, he plans to complete a secondary school or trade course to have employment qualifications. He comes from a functional family – his were not parents who did not care for their child; however, they were too busy working to take proper care of him, the way he needed it when he had a growing-up crisis, he was practically left to his own devices and the street. Children who come to us are mostly in a similar situation. (...)

A friend asked me: “Aren’t you afraid to work with those children?” Some people think we should not work with children with behaviour issues, because they’ve caused harm to society – they’ve committed a crime. Some do not see the possibility of giving them a second chance. What we are doing is listen to those children, follow their needs. We advise them – we do not give them orders. We protect them – we do not reject them. This shows them that somebody accepts them, and thus the children accept our models as positive behaviour models and realize they can be different and have the strength to change. (...)

Ljiljana Marković (IAN – International Aid Network)

Click here to read the entire transcript of Ljiljana Marković’s speech from the 29th Belgrade Ignite event.




Continued Drafting of the Employment and Social Reform Programme (ESRP)

As part of the European integration process, an Employment and Social Reform Programme (ESRP) is being drafted, designed as a strategic process and the main mechanism for a dialog regarding priorities in the field of social policy and employment, structured after the Europe 2020 model already being applied by member states. Like the EU employment guidelines, ESRP will present solutions in three areas: labour market and employment policies, human capital and skill development policies and social inclusion and social protection policies.

The second draft of the document, after a widespread public discussion with non-governmental organizations, social partners and other stakeholders, was sent to the European Commission for consultations during early November. The next step is to define horizontal aspects, such as capacity building, institutional reform, financial challenges for the implementation of measures, as well as the use of EU funds for implementing planned reforms. This is the third and final component of the document. The final draft of the Employment and Social Reform Programme will be made available once again to partners for public discussion.


“Sofa / Access to Justice” – Cycle of Debates on Children in the Judicial System of Serbia

The Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the Šok Art production group successfully organized four debates in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Novi Pazar and Niš, on the subject of children in the judicial system. The debates were implemented as part of the series “Sofa – Access to Justice”, with the target group of these debates being students from public universities in Serbia. The goal of the debates was for the students to develop a deeper understanding of how judicial reform can help children in a vulnerable situation achieve their rights. Through the debates, the students’ understanding of the importance of access to justice for vulnerable groups, as well as the ways the judicial system can protect them, was increased.

The series of debates, implemented with the assistance of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway in Belgrade, shows in a critical, but constructive way, through a number of interviews with prominent experts working in the field, how the judicial system functions in relation to underage persons in Serbia. By exploring situations and procedures they can encounter in the judicial system – from children in divorce proceedings, through juveniles issued prison or corrective centre sentences, to children victims of family violence – the series contributes to strengthening the rule of law in Serbia.

More information regarding this initiative can be found HERE.

Presentations from the “Promotion of Gender Equality in the Process of Creating Evidence-Based Public Policies in Serbia”

The Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit in cooperation with the European Institute for Gender Equality and the Statistical Institute of the Republic of Serbia organised a conference entitled: “Promotion of Gender Equality in the Evidence-Based Public Policy Making in Serbia“ on the  14 and 15 October 2014. The conference aimed to promote evidence-based public policy development in the area of gender equality and sharing of experiences between Serbia and the EU. A more specific objective was to initiate the process of adoption of the Gender Equality Index in Serbia.

In her opening speech, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlović stated that gender equality matters not only because it is guaranteed by the Constitution but as it is the key for sustainable development of our country. She said that the Government will, in the forthcoming period, focus on creating an environment where all the citizens would have equal employment opportunities, and that toghether with the local governments and civil sector it would work on equalising the rights of women and men. Gender equality represents one of the priorities of the Government, and all the ministries will pool around this effort.

Click here to read the extended report from the conference and download the speaker presentations.

Meeting Held Regarding the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

On the occasion of 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Union of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, in cooperation with the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, organized a discussion with the members of the Women’s Parliamentary Network, members of the Parliament of AP Vojvodina, national institutions, civil society institutions and international organizations, regarding the issue of violence against women in Serbia.

The key findings of the Qualitative Survey of the Effectiveness of Mechanisms for Combating Violence against Women at the National and Local Level were presented, initiated and implemented by the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia in cooperation with the Autonomous Women’s Center and Institute for Psychology of the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade.

The goal of the survey was to contribute to improving the systematic mechanisms providing support to victims of family violence on the one hand, and on the other, to recognize bottlenecks in these mechanisms and offer recommendations. Thus, a qualitative survey was undertaken in 7 relevant institutions (social work centres, police, public prosecution, basic court – criminal and civil, and emergency healthcare services) examining the ways in which these institutions react to the problem of family violence.

Click here to read the extended report from the meeting.


Zorana Mihajlović: One in Two Women in Serbia Suffer Some Form of Violence
New Round of Internship Programme for Youth – Members of Minorities in Public Institutions in Serbia
E-Inclusion Network in Europe UNITE-IT
Call for CSO to Support the Initiative for Creating a Better Environment for the Development of Civil Society and Philanthropy in Serbia
Exhibition and Public  Discussion “OkO beogradskih ulica”
Newsletter on Social Entrepreneurship: News Fit for People
Social Spending among the Rich Still High
Open Call for Support to Clusters (Deadline: 30/1/2015)
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LICEULICE: The Homeless Professor (Milorad Vlačić Miško, 1953-2014)

Miško was a man who gave a lot of selfless help to people living in the streets. He probably understood their problems and needs better than anyone. The reason lies partly in that he was one of them. Miško was, in fact, a homeless person and one of the key associates of the Liceulice magazine.

We met often, at drives for collecting and sharing aid, but we also spoke by phone when someone would call us, because they had food left over from an event that they did not wish to throw away. As someone who had spent so long in the streets, Miško always knew where and to whom the remaining catering should best be delivered. Everyone knew him. In every squat, shelter, all across town. And everyone trusted and respected him. He was always willing to work with youth (most of whom grew up on the street), to teach them to read and write, to work through (alternative) textbooks with them for hours, much like when he used to be a professor of history. He always organized alternative shelters for his older friends, found them jobs whether they deserved it or not. And if one was to ask him what he needed, he only requested new books.

Together, we organized drives to gather aid for those most in need, he sometimes wrote for Liceulice, participated on a public debate in a park where he talked about his experiences from the streets, cooked his special beans at the opening of this year’s Vreva, organized with us the first alternative tourist walk “one the other side of Savamala”, initiated a drive with several renowned restaurants to jointly distribute leftover food every day to those most in need, he was always willing to speak to journalists regarding the issue of homelessness in Serbia, he wanted to stop it being a taboo, to direct everyone’s attention to this increasing problem.

He never complained of anything. Not even when he became gravely ill. (...)

The rest of the text can be found HERE. Other texts by our bloggers can be found at:


Toy Libraries Win European Commission Award

The European Commission awarded the “Educational Programme for Mother and Child” project financed by the Roma Education Fund (REF), opening toy libraries in five cities across Serbia (Kraljevo, Kragujevac, Novi Sad, Obrenovac and Kruševac). This is the first year the award is given, with 60 projects from seven states competing. (…) The explanation was that the project is achieving everything the Commission wanted to emphasize: increased visibility and inclusion of the Roma population in society.

Tatjana Obradović Tošić, the coordinator of the “Educational Programme for Mother and Child” project says that it encompasses three segments: improvement of parental practice, an alternative programme of early child development and the networking of Roma NGO. “As part of the first, we organize workshops for mothers of children aged up to seven years. We also organized literacy classes for women, and book clubs. Toy libraries and monitoring the enrolment of Roma children in preschool institutions and their subsequent retention in the education system is also one of our fields of work”, she explained.

All the toy libraries were opened in 2013, with the last one – the fifth – in the Novi Sad settlement of Veliki Rit, opened this year. The method of work is the same everywhere. A librarian and assistant work with the kids. The children learn through games, develop their motor skills, socialize, develop various skills; mothers, along with the children, rent toys, exchange experiences, and receive additional instruction on why education is important.

One mother from Kraljevo said: “Every day it was just obligations and problems. I didn’t have time for the kids. They played outside or in the house. I was just trying to clean up after them, feed them, dress them, wash them and put them to bed. Now I want them to do something, to have something to live off, to be somebody. It’s nice when I teach them something. We play, I teach them to name colours, we count… Now, sometimes I leave cleaning and say: ‘Never mind, I’ll do it later’, and play with them. They find it nice and I prefer to sit and play with them than to have them out on the street, getting into fights,” she explained. (…)

The rest of the text can be found HERE. More success stories can be found HERE.
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Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit
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