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Children and young people’s reports

As part of the QAF design process, we asked young people What young people thought about the QAF’ . Specifically what safety, permanency, wellbeing and cultural and spiritual identity means to them.

They told us they want to feel connected to their friends and family, have people they can trust, have opportunities to reach their full potential and have a voice that is heard.

The Self Report is a set of questions for children and young people in OOHC to tell us how they are going in the areas of safety and permanency and cultural and spiritual identity. Questions are automatically organised so they are age and situationally appropriate. The Self Report comprises of three sections:

  1. Safety and Permanency
  2. Multicultural
  3. Aboriginal Cultural

These questions are asked in a consistent manner, at regular intervals to all children in OOHC across all locations, care types and cultural backgrounds.

Safety and Permanency

The Self Report incorporates questions from the 2018 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) National Survey of Children in OOHC, that measure:

  • feelings of safety
  • the presence of safe adults with whom a child or young person can communicate harm or risk of harm
  • the presence of behaviours that expose a child or young person to potential mistreatment, injury or other types of harm.

Asking about safety

As children get older and can express themselves, their feelings of personal safety and security should be incorporated into the report’s safety measures.

Children and young people should have relationships with adults they can talk to about mistreatment, and behaviours, plans or environments that expose them to risk.

Asking about injury

Another area of concern for child safety is injury, whether unintended, accidental or non-accidental. Although all children and young people are at some risk of injury, asking about it can help us prevent certain environmental and behavioural risks.

We can learn more about risky environments and behaviours by asking about a child or young person about the presence of concerned and caring adults, and obtaining information about their risk-taking behaviour.

Reliable sources for our questions

We’ve looked at the relevance of the NSW FACS Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS) to QAF objectives, and selected some of its questions for inclusion in the QAF self report.

The majority of these questions are either standardised measures or validated and reliable scales and questions that are used in other surveys such as the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AHIW), National Survey of Children in Out Of Home Care, Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), NSW School Students Health Behaviour Survey, and the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) Survey Beyond 18.

Adopting these questions gives us a valid and reliable means of measuring individual wellbeing over time, and provides benchmarks for the general population.

Multicultural identity

Culture is important to all of us for many reasons and underpins who we are in terms of values, beliefs, customs, traditions and language. Social identity is a critical developmental task during adolescence. It is part of self-concept, and comes from a person’s knowledge of, and values and affections towards, their membership of a social group or groups.

Importance of cultural identity

There is wide agreement among researchers that as a child matures, cultural identity is crucial to psychological wellbeing. It’s linked to academic success, low levels of substance abuse, and increased self-esteem, among other outcomes.

Evidence also suggests that positive cultural identity makes someone more resilient to prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping experienced by minority groups.

Multi Ethnic Identity Measure

The QAF is trialling the Multi Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM). The MEIM is designed to assess ethnic identity across diverse groups of young people aged 12-17 years.

The MEIM has been used in multiple studies globally and is reliable across a wide range of ethnic groups and ages. The MEIM comprises of two key factors:

  • Exploration: Efforts to learn about one’s group and participation in cultural practices
  • Commitment: A positive affirmation of one’s own group (based on social identity theory) and a clear sense of commitment.

The MEIM takes approximately five minutes to administer.

The questionnaire comprises of 14 questions that measure a young person’s exposure to and involvement in their group against how they value their identity.

An overall score is provided by the MEIM. The higher the score, the stronger the young person’s cultural identity.

See a sample MEIM.

Consulting culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities

The first step in designing the QAF’s cultural and spiritual domain was asking people from CALD backgrounds what culture and spiritual identity means to them, and how we can translate this into measurable outcomes for children and young people in OOHC.

We did this at a forum reflecting the diversity of NSW CALD communities, with both government and non-government representatives and key community members. They told us about the importance of:

  • recognising there is no blanket rule for what culture and spirituality means in NSW
  • every child in OOHC learning about their culture, having a sense of belonging, and maintaining familiarity with culture and connection to community.

We’ve taken this on board in developing the cultural and spiritual wellbeing measures for the QAF.

See a sample consultation report.

Aboriginal identity

Culture is important to all of us for many reasons and underpins who we are in terms of values, beliefs, customs, traditions and language. We are asking Aboriginal children and young people about their culture to help us understand what cultural support we as casework practitioners need to provide to them.

The Aboriginal Cultural Connections Questionnaire (ACCQ) is an Australian first, as no questionnaires existed for Aboriginal children and young people who are in out-of-home care (OOHC) in NSW or anywhere else in Australia.

The questions are based around key things, knowledge and connections, a person who is culturally connected is surrounded by. Some of these questions generally happen in conversations with Aboriginal people in community to firstly establish their family connections and secondly their basic knowledge and understanding of where they come from. There are 12 questions that range from multiple choice to free text. There are no right or wrong answers.

Please note: Learning about your culture is a life long journey; it is not expected by Aboriginal people or FACS that non-Aboriginal casework practitioners will teach the child or young person about their culture. As a casework practitioner, you need to access Aboriginal community members who have the skills in providing cultural support or leadership to gain cultural knowledge

We need to ensure that each child has an understanding of:

  • who they are (personal identity) – knowing they are Aboriginal and their family/kin
  • who they belong to (Community) – knowing family connection
  • where they come from (family history, Aboriginal history) – knowing their family history and the history of Aboriginal people
  • where they belong (Country, communities of belonging) – knowing their country/nation, communities of belonging (on and off country)
  • what they do (cultural expression and events) – participating in cultural events and activities
  • what they believe (cultural values, beliefs and practices) – values like family/kin/community relationships and responsibilities, Elders (family and community), sharing, on country stories

Is the Aboriginal Cultural Connections questionnaire culturally appropriate?

The questions are culturally appropriate and have been developed by Burrun Dalai an Aboriginal OOHC agency in NSW and have been tested and trialled over a period of two years with various Aboriginal children, young people and caseworker practitioners. Extensive consultation has occurred and many hours of heart felt discussions around the meaning of culture and how this could be measured have been undertaken.

Aboriginal Cultural and Spiritual Identity Domain Development snapshot

The Domain has taken two years to develop from scratch and has been a true partnership with Aboriginal people. The steps taken in the development of the QAF Aboriginal Cultural and Spiritual Identity Domain have been:

  • Initial conversations held with Aboriginal young people about culture and what it means to them. Aboriginal Cultural and Spiritual Identity Forum, November 2016 with 57 attendees 45 being Aboriginal (identifying with 17 different Nations/Lands/Clan/Countries), 18 from NGO’s, 16 Elders and 23 FACS staff. The Forum Report can be found at consultation report.
  • Establishing a cross sector Aboriginal Cultural and Spiritual Identity Task Team to lead the development of the Outcomes, definitions, indicators and measures needed in the Domain. The task team has met since early 2017 and continues to meet. The Task Team is led by FACS QAF Team with members comprising Burrun Dalai, AbSec, FACS Aboriginal Outcomes, FACS Cultural Connections Team Western NSW, FACS Aboriginal Reference Group (ARG), the Parenting Research Centre and Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker.
  • Partnering with Burrun Dalai Aboriginal OOHC to consult, develop questions and support materials, deliver training and support for the trial.
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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019