Any of various professional activities or methods concerned with providing social services (such as investigatory and treatment services or material aid) to disadvantaged, distressed, or vulnerable persons or groups. The field originated in the charity organizations in Europe and the U.S. in the late 19th century. The training of volunteer workers by these organizations led directly to the founding of the first schools of social work and indirectly to increased government responsibility for the welfare of the disadvantaged. Social service providers may serve the needs of children and families, the poor or homeless, immigrants, veterans, the mentally ill, the handicapped, victims of rape or domestic violence, and persons dependent on alcohol or drugs. Seealso welfare.
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The Austrian Service Abroad (Österreichischer Auslandsdienst) is a non-profit organization which was founded by Dr. Andreas Maislinger in 1998, created by section 12 (b) of the law for alternative services. It offers the possibility to substitute the 9-month domestic service with a 12-month service abroad. This is possible since 1992 and is based on an initiative by Andreas Maislinger. The service abroad (Auslandsdienst) can be done in three areas: memorial service (Gedenkdienst), peace service (Friedensdienst) and social service (Sozialdienst).