Ballarat’s Youth Award recipient champions diversity & inclusion 

A big congratulations to Meg Lee, CMY’s nominee and recent recipient of the City of Ballarat’s Youth Award for 2022 in the field of equity, diversity & inclusion!

Meg was born and grew up in Ballarat, raised by her mother who is of Anglo-Australian heritage and was surrounded by her multicultural extended family. Although she now identifies as mixed race, she remembers a time where she was unaware that it was an option for her. Growing up, Meg felt like she couldn’t claim that she was from a multicultural background and was unsure about putting herself in the “multicultural category” because she was not raised by parents born overseas. However, her involvement with the multicultural community in Ballarat helped her form a stronger sense of identity.

“Thankfully when I was connected to CMY Ballarat, they were really open in their framing of what ‘multicultural’ means and I felt like there was space for me to be included,” Meg said.

Meg is currently an Explore Researcher at CMY, but was first connected to CMY years ago through her work experience with an adjacent multicultural organisation in Ballarat, as well as her sister’s involvement with CMY Ballarat. Her increased interest and involvement in the multicultural youth space and finding a new community that she wasn’t previously connected to, was a pivotal moment for her.

In 2020 during the pandemic, Meg had just finished her Honours year following a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and was offered a PhD scholarship at Melbourne University. The research would involve multicultural young people in Ballarat and Western Victoria and also broadly focused on migrant settlement. This was ideal for Meg as she was eager to bring her lived experience as a young person from Ballarat to the research.

Meg is hoping to approach the project primarily as a community youth project and utilise a photo-based research method, that allows young people to creatively express their priorities and concerns related to wellbeing, rather than being asked to answer questions in a focus-group setting. This will be followed by a photo exhibition.

“A visual cue can be so helpful to explore wellbeing in a broad sense. There can be varied understanding of these concepts and I want to use the openness of the method to find out what wellbeing means to these young people.”

Meg has been connected to local young people and researchers to kickstart the project, with the help of CMY and a few partner organisations and says she is thankful for how much support she has already received.   

“Being nominated for the award got me thinking even more about what it means to be a young person and the different roles a young person can take in different spaces. Because I’m 25, I stopped putting myself in the “youth category”, so the nomination was surprising to me. Because I work with young people through my research, I didn’t consider myself a young person, but it’s been great to realise that people can have multiple roles and be a professional or a researcher and still very much be a young person.”

We can’t wait to see what Meg finds through her research. Stay tuned for exhibition details.