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ACT to contribute to $100 million dollar bushfire research

Media Release

09 December 2003

Media release from MLA Bill Wood, Minister for Police and Emergency Services

The ACT's contribution to a new $100 million dollars Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) will be a bushfire arson research project, ACT Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Bill Wood, said today.

Federal Science Minister, Peter McGauran, officially launched the Bushfire CRC in Melbourne this morning.

The Bushfire CRC brings together Australia's major fire control agencies and researchers from CSIRO, the universities, State agencies, and the Bureau of Meteorology in 30 different research projects.

"It is essential the ACT contribute to such an important project especially in the wake of the devastation of the January 2003 bushfires," Mr Wood said.

"The benefits of pooling our funds and research capacity will mean greater results for the Australian community.

"The ACT Government in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Criminology will undertake a research project into bushfire arson.

"It is estimated by the police that more than 50 per cent of ACT/NSW bushfires during the 2001 - 2002 New Year were deliberately lit.

"It is extremely important to undertake research into why people undertake such destructive and antisocial acts.

"The Arson Research Project will:

  • Attempt to quantify the rate of incidence (proven and suspected) of bushfire arson across Australia.
  • Using police and fire authorities intelligence data, describe the various modus operandi employed by offenders in setting bushfires, including the modus operandi of offenders who have been involved in firefighting.
  • Undertake a literature search of Australia and overseas research, and summarise research that profiles known arson offenders, including bushfire arsonists, and including those who have been involved in firefighting.
  • Undertake a literature search of Australia and overseas research, and summarise relevant research into the effectiveness of treatment programs for arson offenders.
  • Interview known bushfire arsonists to ascertain:
    • Motive;
    • Modus operandi;
    • Psycho-social background factors;
    • Their views on effective prevention messages; and
    • Their views on effective offender rehabilitation measures.
    • Develop a methodology to measure the cost of arson.

    "Bushfires have an enormous impact on Australia and Australians each year - the more we can learn about them and their causes the better prepared we will be when they occur," Mr Wood said.

    Further information about the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre can be found at: www.scienceinpublic.com with username embargo and password 9december.