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Advancing Bushfire Arson Prevention in Australia

NCJ Number
Janet Stanley, Tahl Kestin
Date Published
June 2010
85 pages
This report presents summary papers on the current knowledge and response to bushfire arson from the symposium, Advancing Bushfire Arson Prevention in Australia held in March 2010.
The symposium Advancing Bushfire Arson Prevention in Australia, held in Melbourne on March 2010, was organized in partnership with the Australian Institute of Criminology. The symposium aimed to 1) identify the best practice arson prevention models operating in Australia and internationally identify the gaps and priorities for improving current knowledge and responses and draw plans for addressing them, 2) bring together those working in the bushfire arson prevention field across organization and discipline to meet, network and establish working relationships, 3) disseminate the outcomes of the symposium to inform the implementation of the National Action Plan to Reduce Bushfire Arson in Australia and other bushfire arson prevention initiatives. This report is in fulfillment of the aim to provide a summary of the issues raised and the recommendations made during the symposium. It contains a summary paper for each symposium session covering the main issues of mental health, criminal justice system, community approaches, and risk assessment approaches. Highlights of conclusions drawn from these papers on how to improve bushfire arson prevention in Australia include: 1) bushfire arson differs from structural (building) arson in important ways, including having more varied motives and less knowable consequences; 2) the priority and resources given to bushfire arson need to reflect the high costs of dealing with the consequences of this crime and the much lower costs of preventing it from occurring in the first place; 3) current knowledge and understanding of bushfire arson and the effectiveness of existing prevention approaches is insufficient for developing effective bushfire arson prevention strategies; and 4) bushfire arson requires a multiagency and interdisciplinary response with bushfire arson falling within the jurisdiction of a variety of national, State, and local agencies. These conclusions will used as the basis for setting the initiative goals and structuring planning over the next 5 years. Tables, figures, charts, references, and appendixes A-B