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Time for action against serial arson offenders

Since the devastating Victorian bushfires of 2009 reminded Australians just how dangerous arsonists can be, the issue of how to best manage this type of criminal behaviour has been the focal point of much public discussion.

Now one of Australia’s leading arson experts, Director of Clinical and Forensic Psychology at Bond University, Dr Rebekah Doley says it is time to turn the talk into action.

“Australia is in the unique position to take advantage of a recent explosion in the field of arson knowledge, particularly in terms of the treatment and risk assessment of arson offenders,” said Dr Doley.

“This knowledge is not currently reflected in the processes and policies of how we deal with arsonists and now is the time to start doing something with what we know,” she said.

To this end, Dr Doley will present a professional forum entitled “Out of the Ashes: Confronting serial arson in Australia” in Melbourne on Friday, December 2.

“The forum will focus on what we know about the psychology of people who deliberately set fires, the current advancements in the field and the future directions to better manage arson offenders in the community,” said Dr Doley.

“Arsonists are among our most dangerous offenders and bushfire arsonists in particular present an enormous threat to the safety of our rural communities.

“While the rate of deliberate firesetting is steady, the magnitude of the fires being set and the resulting devastation is increasing and there is certainly a growing awareness of the danger that these criminal types pose to a community,” she said.

Aimed at policy makers and decision makers in the legal, government, emergency services and police sectors, along with mental health practitioners and academics, the forum is designed to provoke and engage the Australian community in considering better ways to prevent serial arson.

“Australia has the opportunity now to get serious about arson and focus on the future of effective intervention and treatment of firesetters while continuing to promote the development of improved fire management strategies,” said Dr Doley.

For more information or to register for the event click here.

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