The Multi-disciplinary and Mental Health Support – Juvenile Firesetting Project expands CFA’s current approach to firesetting to a multi-disciplinary one. This means the traditional intervention strategy of fire safety education is now combined with psychological support. Education of mental health practitioners is a major focus.
- This project is guided by recommendation 36 of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission (VBRC) findings and Project Manager Kate McDonald’s doctoral research that investigated risk factors and best practice with firesetters.
There are around 54,000 bushfires in
The ratio of male to female related arson is 9:1. Firesetting can emerge earlier than other antisocial behaviours. Research reveals firesetting can be motivated by anger and curiosity.
The most common disorders associated with firesetting are conduct disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and many firesetters have academic difficulties. It’s also common for child firesetters to grow up in dysfunctional families.
Roughly one in four firesetters will repeat their behaviour. Without multi-disciplinary intervention, a 50-80% repeat incidence rate has been reported.
Some of the products that the CFA Juvenile Firesetting Project will deliver include:
- a summary brochure with important facts about youth firesetters and their families – to raise awareness of mental health practitioners and case workers;
- a referral pathway document for people who identify a firesetter to other services – both voluntary and involuntary; and
- an intervention program for firesetters in partnership with Youth Justice.
Project Manager Kate McDonald said that early intervention is extremely important.
“It is much easier to intervene early with firesetters before they become adults. Many fires are deliberatively lit by youths. This project aims to support them and their families,” she said.
“Firesetting is a community problem. Other agencies also need to be involved to work together to tackle this problem; it is our joint responsibility.”