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Deliberately lit vegetation fires in Australia

Abstract

Bushfire arson is an important issue in Australia, but studies analysing its prevalence and distribution are sparse and have focused on isolated areas or specific data collections. This paper summarises key findings of the Australian Institute of Criminology's extensive analysis of vegetation fires attended by Australian fire agencies, and represents the first attempt to quantify the extent of deliberately lit fires in Australia, focusing on when and where deliberate fires occur, and how their distribution varies as a function of natural and human factors. The study identifies the need for improved collection and integration of key data to inform both policy and practice. Despite the limitations of the empirical data, important implications for the management of fire and the prevention of ignitions are discussed. The paper notes the need to examine management practices along the urban interface including strategies to build community cohesion in rapidly growing population centres in these interfaces. It also highlights the need to develop ongoing resourced arson reduction strategies that effectively target broad sections of the community, while maintaining strategies that target specific offenders.

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