Objective: Empowerment is a complex process of psychological, social, organizational and structural change. It allows individuals and groups to achieve positive growth and effectively address the social and psychological impacts of historical oppression, marginalization and disadvantage. The Growth and Empowerment Measure (GEM) was developed to measure change in dimensions of empowerment as defined and described by Aboriginal Australians who participated in the Family Well Being programme.
Method: The GEM has two components: a 14-item Emotional Empowerment Scale (EES14) and 12 Scenarios (12S). It is accompanied by the Kessler 6 Psychological Distress Scale (K6), supplemented by two questions assessing frequency of happy and angry feelings. For validation, the measure was applied with 184 Indigenous Australian participants involved in personal and/or organizational social health activities.
Results: Psychometric analyses of the new instruments support their validity and reliability and indicate two-component structures for both the EES (Self-capacity; Inner peace) and the 12S (Healing and enabling growth, Connection and purpose). Strong correlations were observed across the scales and subscales. Participants who scored higher on the newly developed scales showed lower distress on the K6, particularly when the two additional questions were included. However, exploratory factor analyses demonstrated that GEM subscales are separable from the Kessler distress measure.
Conclusion: The GEM shows promise in enabling measurement and enhancing understanding of both process and outcome of psychological and social empowerment within an Australian Indigenous context.