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Multicultural identity

Multicultural identity is part of social identity.

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.

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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 measureable 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.

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