National Forum for the Prevention of Bushfire Arson Summary Report 3 May 2010 Table of contents



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National Forum for the Prevention of Bushfire Arson
Summary Report
3 May 2010


Table of contents

Executive Summary …………………………………………………………………………………….. Page 3

Agenda …………………………………………………………………………………………………... Page 4


  1. Opening Address of the National Forum for the Prevention of Bushfire Arson ……………............ Page 5

National Collaboration

  1. A national approach to bushfire arson prevention: Towards greater collaboration ………………… Page 7

Ms Amanda Leck, Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council

  1. The prevention of bushfire arson …………………………………………………………………… Page 7

Dr Janet Stanley, Monash Sustainability Institute

  1. Development of the ‘Wildfire Arson Investigation Management Course ………………………….. Page 8

Mr Richard Woods, ACT Rural Fire Service

  1. Improving multi-agency approaches to arson prevention ……………………………………... Page 8

Mr Chris Lewis, New South Wales Fire Brigades

  1. Victoria Police Bushfire Arson Prevention and Detection Strategy ………………………………… Page 9

Mr Paul Hollowood, Victoria Police

Law Enforcement Responses

  1. Successful bushfire arson prevention: A numbers game ……………………………………………. Page 9

Mr Warwick Jones, Australian Institute of Criminology

  1. A centralised database to facilitate effective information sharing on known and …………………. Page 10
    suspected arsonists

Ms Sarah Chidgey, Attorney-General’s Department, Mr Stuart Cross, CrimTrac

Community Education and Engagement

  1. Best practice in juvenile firesetting intervention in Australia ……………………………………... Page 11

Ms Kate McDonald, Victoria University

  1. Juvenile firesetter programs: The Tasmanian experience ……………………………………. Page 11

Mr Gavin Freeman, Tasmania Fire Service

  1. Risk intervention: A Queensland approach to fire play, firesetting and arson …………………….. Page 12

Mr Steve Rothwell, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service

  1. Community response and recovery in disaster …………………………………………………….. Page 12

Ms Lyn Gunter, Former Mayor, Murrindindi Shire Council

  1. Launch of the Bushfire Arson Prevention Handbook ……………………………………………… Page 12

Dr Adam Tomison, Australian Institute of Criminology

Appendices

Presenter biographies …………………………………………………………………………………... Page 13

Participants ……………………………………………………………………………………………... Page 17

Executive Summary

The Victorian bushfires of February 2009 have been described as Australia's worst natural disaster since Federation. 173 people lost their lives and more than 2000 homes were destroyed. Amidst the catastrophic loss of life and extreme property damage, was the tragic fact that some of these bushfires had been deliberately lit.

The Commonwealth Attorney-General established the National Forum for the Prevention of Bushfire Arson in 2009, to promote more effective and collaborative means of preventing and deterring bushfire arson. The second annual Forum was attended by more than 40 police, fire agency officers, and arson specialists from around the country.

Arson is a major threat to the Australian community, with up to half of all bushfires being suspected of being deliberately lit or starting in suspicious circumstances. In addition to the massive human toll that fires can take, it is estimated that arson costs the Australian community about $1.6 billion each year. The key to reducing and preventing bushfire arson is maximising cooperation between fire agencies, police, social services, the criminal justice system and all levels of government.

To this end, the Forum considered a broad range of successful bushfire arson initiatives from across Australia. The agenda reflected three priority areas that are critical to delivering a more effective national approach to combating arson:  better national collaboration; better law enforcement responses; and better community education and engagement. This summary report provides a brief overview of the presentations under each of these priority areas. Presentations are available upon request to the Attorney-General’s Department, with the permission of presenters.

As part of the Forum, the Commonwealth announced a number of important and practical initiatives to promote national collaboration in combating bushfire arson, including:



  • establishing a centralised national database of convicted and suspected arsonists to provide local authorities with access to up-to-date information on arsonists;

  • investing in the development of a ‘Bushfire Arson Investigation Course’ to build the expertise of arson investigators across the country; and

  • launching a ‘Bushfire Arson Prevention Handbook’, developed by the Australian Institute of Criminology, to help local communities develop strategies to prevent bushfire arson.

The Forum demonstrates the ongoing commitment of Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to work together to prevent and deter arson through a coordinated national approach.


National Forum for the Prevention of Bushfire Arson

10:30am – 4:00pm, Monday 3 May 2010

Canberra Room, Hyatt Hotel Canberra
Commonwealth Avenue, Yarralumla, ACT 2600

AGENDA


Item No.




Sponsor



Opening address

The Hon Robert McClelland MP
Attorney-General

National Collaboration






A national approach to bushfire arson prevention: Towards greater collaboration

Ms Amanda Leck
Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council



The prevention of bushfire arson

Dr Janet Stanley
Monash Sustainability Institute



Development of the ‘Wildfire Arson Investigation Management Course’

Mr Richard Woods
ACT Rural Fire Service



Improving multi-agency approaches to arson prevention

Mr Chris Lewis
New South Wales Fire Brigades



Victoria Police Bushfire Arson Prevention and Detection Strategy

Mr Paul Hollowood
Victoria Police

Law Enforcement Responses






Successful bushfire arson prevention: A numbers game

Mr Warwick Jones
Australian Institute of
Criminology



A centralised database to facilitate effective information sharing on known and suspected arsonists

Ms Sarah Chidgey
Commonwealth / CrimTrac

Community Education and Engagement






Best practice in juvenile firesetting intervention in Australia

Ms Kate McDonald
Victoria University



Juvenile firesetter programs: The Tasmanian experience

Mr Gavin Freeman
Tasmania Fire Service



Risk intervention: A Queensland approach to fire play, firesetting and arson

Mr Steve Rothwell
Queensland Fire and Rescue Service



Community response and recovery in disaster

Ms Lyn Gunter
Former Mayor, Murrindindi Shire Council



Launch of the Bushfire Arson Prevention Handbook

Dr Adam Tomison
Australian Institute of Criminology

Next Steps






Way forward

The Hon Robert McClelland MP
Attorney-General






  1. Opening of the 2010 National Forum for the Prevention of Bushfire Arson

The Hon. Robert McClelland MP, Commonwealth Attorney-General

    First, may I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land we meet on – and pay my respects to their elders, both past and present. It’s a great pleasure to be here today.

    Given that around half of all bushfires in Australia are suspected of being deliberately lit, it is critical that all levels of government, and all sectors of the community, do what we can to prevent bushfire arson. That’s why today is so important, and I thank you all for coming.

    This is the second meeting of this forum which I established in 2009. Last year’s meeting was unprecedented as for the first time, stakeholders from all states and territories and different agencies got together at a national level to debate what works and what doesn’t and to discuss what needs to be done in the future with respect to the prevention of bushfire arson. The overriding message from last year’s meeting was that greater national coordination and cooperation is critical to successfully addressing bushfire arson. This requires better collaboration between agencies including police, emergency services, town planners, education and local government. They all have a part to play. Last year’s forum was a great success and provided the foundation for what is now a nationally agreed policy setting framework to address bushfire arson in Australia. Today, we seek to build on this important work.


National Work Plan to Reduce Bushfire Arson

Those of you here at last year’s Forum will recall that we agreed a list of national priorities for action.

This list has directly informed the development of a National Work Plan to Reduce Bushfire Arson in Australia. This Work Plan was developed jointly by the Commonwealth, States and Territories to institute a more preventative and collaborative approach to reducing bushfire arson. It specifically focuses on activities that will benefit from a nationally consistent approach, and from sharing resources and expertise.

The National Work Plan was endorsed in November last year at Ministerial Council meetings of both Emergency Management and Police Ministers. This clearly represents the ongoing commitment of the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to work together to take substantive action on this issue.

Today’s agenda reflects three priority areas that are critical to delivering a more effective national approach to combating bushfire arson: better national collaboration; better law enforcement responses; and better community education and engagement. I would like to touch briefly on each of these areas.

Better National Collaboration

As I mentioned earlier, successfully addressing bushfire arson is beyond the capacity of any one agency.

We need to work better together both within and between jurisdictions. This will be the focus of the first session today. The important thing is that we now have a national framework to deliver on issues that should be pursued nationally. Together with my State and Territory colleagues, we have established a joint working group across jurisdictions to drive national priorities. The group, which will hold its first meeting later this month, is co-chaired by Mr Mike Norris, a senior officer from the Attorney-General’s Department, and Mr Tony Leech from the Victorian Department of Justice. Obviously, the group will take a close interest in today’s discussions.

Better Law Enforcement Responses

A more coordinated and effective law enforcement response is one critical aspect in successfully tackling the problem of bushfire arson which will be discussed in our second session today. Together with the Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Brendan O’Connor, I am today announcing that the Commonwealth is working to develop a centralised national database of convicted and suspected arsonists in the National Police Reference System. This resource will promote effective information sharing across jurisdictions, allowing local police access to national up-to-date information on arsonists.

The database could also be used by police as a tool to direct intervention strategies at times of high risk. Of course, any proposal to develop a national database must be subject to close consultation with the States and Territories. Following today’s Forum, Minister O’Connor and I will write to the CrimTrac Board of Management and subsequently State and Territory Police Ministers seeking their endorsement to use the National Police Reference System as a mechanism for creating a national database of arsonists. 

It is also my pleasure to announce today that the Commonwealth will provide additional funding for the development of a Bushfire Arson Investigation Course. This will build on a pilot course conducted by the ACT Rural Fire Service in October 2009, and we hope it can be available in the future to help build the expertise of arson investigators across the country.

While it is clearly preferable to seek to prevent arson in the first place, when it does occur, perpetrators deserve to face the full force of the law. That includes the possibility of murder charges if an arsonist deliberately lights a fire with reckless indifference to the safety of others. This is consistent with the recognition at last year’s forum of the need for stronger, more consistent bushfire arson offences. The Commonwealth is encouraging jurisdictions to implement tough offences along the lines of the proposed model law drafted by the Commonwealth last year for bushfire arson causing death or serious harm.

This appropriately reflects the serious nature of this crime and represents an important part of raising community awareness about bushfire arson and the damage it causes to families and communities each year.



Better Community Education and Engagement

Detecting and prosecuting arsonists is important, but it does not represent a complete solution to the issue.

Better community education and engagement is equally, if not more, important in preventing arson before it actually occurs. It is critical that fire and police services work hand in hand with schools, community groups and social services, to ensure that individuals at risk of engaging in arson can be deterred. In the third session later today, we will hear about a number of community education programs already underway at a State and Territory level. I hope we can develop ideas for developing these campaigns and sharing experiences nationally.

I am pleased to advise that a ‘Bushfire Arson Prevention Manual’ developed by the Australian Institute of Criminology will be launched later today. The manual will help stakeholders at the local level develop arson prevention strategies to reduce the impact of deliberately lit fires in the Australian bush. It is hoped that the manual will become an important reference for use by a number of relevant local organisations, particularly fire agencies and the police, when developing community based bushfire arson prevention strategies.

The announcements I have made today—for a national arsonist database, a Bushfire Arson Investigation Course, and a Bushfire Arson Prevention Manual—deliver on key priorities agreed at last year’s Forum and identified in the National Action Plan. It is clear that in the year since our inaugural meeting we have made significant progress— but there is much more to be done. The challenge before us is to turn these policies and strategies into positive real world outcomes. Today’s Forum represents a step toward achieving this goal. Throughout today’s proceedings, I look forward to hearing about a number of successful initiatives from around the country. Ideas and outcomes from today will feed directly into implementing the national bushfire arson strategy.

I am pleased to declare this Forum officially open.


Thank you.

National Collaboration

In most cases, no one agency has the sole responsibility for coordinating bushfire arson prevention. Responsibility for prevention measures cuts across traditional boundaries between national, state and local agencies.

Successfully addressing bushfire arson is beyond the capacity of any one agency in isolation. A cooperative nation-wide effort is required across portfolios at all levels of government. This includes better coordination between police, fire and emergency services to engage in targeted prevention programs and share information in investigating crimes.

The presentations under this priority area address the importance of a multi agency and inter-disciplinary response.


Agenda Item 2

Title of presentation: A national approach to bushfire arson prevention: Towards greater collaboration.

Presenter: Ms Amanda Leck, Manager Knowledge and Innovation
Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC).

Overview: This presentation highlighted the work AFAC has undertaken with its member agencies in the areas of information sharing, nationally accredited training programs, data collection and community education.


Summary points:

  • AFAC is the peak fire and emergency services industry body, established by its 34 members to collaborate on matters of international, national and regional importance.

  • AFAC is working closely with the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre to adopt findings from recent research in order to inform decision making of current and future practice. The need for a multi disciplinary, collaborative approach has been identified as key to addressing the issue of bushfire arson in the areas of prevention, preparedness and response.

  • AFAC plays a key role in facilitating two-way information sharing between agencies. For example, the AFAC Knowledge Web brings together the broad spectrum of research, both within the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre and from researchers in other organisations, together with local knowledge, and lessons learned.

Agenda Item 3

Title of presentation: The prevention of bushfire arson.

Presenter: Dr Janet Stanley, Chief Research Office, Monash Sustainability Institute.

Overview: This presentation provided an overview of the Symposium Advancing Bushfire Arson Prevention in Australia, held on 25-26 March 2010.


Summary points:

  • The Symposium was a joint initiative of the Australian Bushfire Arson Prevention Initiative and the Australian Institute of Criminology. It was hosted by the Monash Sustainability Institute.

  • Bushfire arson is an intractable and costly problem for Australia. The symposium brought together a wide range of stakeholders to identify gaps in current knowledge and responses to bushfire arson, and determine priorities for addressing them.

  • The Australian Bushfire Arson Prevention Initiative is working towards a 25% reduction in arson lit fires in five years time, and will use the conclusions from the Symposium as the basis for setting goals and structuring planning over the next five years.

  • The Symposium report is available on the Monash Sustainability Institute website.

Agenda Item 4

Title of presentation: Wildfire Arson Investigation Management Course – A way forward.


Presenter: Mr Richard Woods, Manager, Operations, ACT Rural Fire Service.

Overview: This presentation provided an overview of the course content and plans for its further development for Australian use.


Summary points:

  • The need for cross-agency investigation capability is critical to the successful investigation of bushfire arson. Overseas experience has demonstrated that the skill sets of fire and police investigators can be successfully combined to investigate these fire events.

  • Originally developed in the United States and Canada, the Wildfire Arson Investigation Course is designed to align police and fire services investigators skills to solve serial wildfire arsonists.

  • In September 2009, a pilot Wildfire Investigation Case Development Course was hosted by the ACT Rural Fire Service with students attending from across Australia and New Zealand. This pilot course was held to gauge its application to the Australian and New Zealand context.

  • As part of the Forum, the Commonwealth announced additional funding for the development of a Bushfire Arson Investigation Course, building on the pilot course conducted by the ACT Rural Fire Service in October 2009. This commitment delivers on actions identified in the National Work Plan to Reduce Bushfire Arson in Australia


Agenda Item 5

Title of presentation: Improving multi-agency approaches to arson prevention.


Presenter: Superintendent Chris Lewis, Fire Investigation and Research Unit,
New South Wales Fire Brigades.

Overview: This presentation provided an overview of the multi-agency approach to bushfire arson in New South Wales. In particular, Strikeforce TRONTO, the Hunter Arson Reduction Taskforce, the Doonside Project and the work of the Inter Agency Arson Committee.


Summary points:

  • New South Wales is looking at the strengths of these multi-agency approaches and what improvements could be made in the future.


Agenda Item 6

Title of presentation: Victoria Police Bushfire Arson Prevention and Detection Strategy.

Presenter: Detective Superintendent Paul Hollowood, Tasking and Coordination Operations, Crime Department, Victoria Police.

Overview: This presentation provided an overview of Victoria’s Bushfire Arson Prevention and Detection Strategy.


Summary points:

  • The Victorian bushfires of February 2009 were the largest scale civilian disaster in Australia’s history, causing a devastating effect upon life, community and the environment.

  • Following this disaster, Victoria Police has gained unique insights into the issues associated with bushfire arson, and also the gaps that exist in respect to capability.

  • The Victoria Police Bushfire Arson Prevention and Detection Strategy is a unique state wide coordinated approach to combat bushfire arson more effectively.

Law Enforcement Responses

A more coordinated and effective law enforcement response is one critical aspect in successfully tackling the problem of bushfire arson. Fundamental to the development of more effective bushfire arson prevention strategies is better and more accessible data.

Statistical data collection systems in Australia have inconsistent classification schemes. Reliance on available data is complicated by a lack of distinction between urban arson and vegetation or bushfire arson attacks. Additionally, there is a lack of documented empirical data and local knowledge, as information tends to be anecdotal and passed informally.

Presentations under this priority area highlight the need for more work on understanding what data is needed, and how best to standardise, gather and present this information for both operational and knowledge development purposes.


Agenda Item 7

Title of presentation: Successful bushfire arson prevention: A numbers game.

Presenter: Mr Warwick Jones, Research Manager, Geographic Analysis, Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC).

Overview: This presentation used the AIC’s recent analysis of nearly three hundred thousand bushfire ignition records from eighteen fire agencies in Australia.


Summary points:

  • The AIC is Australia’s national research and knowledge centre on crime and justice.

  • The AIC’s findings identify that a key vulnerability of the perpetrators is the patterned nature of their activities. These patterns can be discovered by good data systems, and then used to develop appropriate bushfire arson prevention strategies.


Agenda Item 8

Title of presentation: A centralised database to facilitate effective information sharing on known and suspected arsonists.

Presenters: Ms Sarah Chidgey, Assistant Secretary, Criminal Law and Law Enforcement Branch, Attorney-General’s Department.


Mr Stewart Cross, National Manager, Law Enforcement Information Services, CrimTrac.

Overview: This presentation provided an overview of how the proposed changes to the CrimTrac National Police Reference System database will work, and what will need to be done in order to ensure its effectiveness. 


Summary points:

  • At the 2009 Forum, it was agreed that a national arson database could be used as a tool to direct intervention strategies at times of high risk, and that the Attorney-General’s Department would investigate options for this proposal. 

  • The Attorney-General’s Department has examined a number of options and recommends adding a new field of suspected and convicted arsonists to the CrimTrac National Police Reference System.

  • As part of the Forum, the Commonwealth announced the proposed establishment of a centralised national database of convicted and suspected arsonists to provide local police authorities with access to up-to-date information on arsonists. The information may be used to direct intervention strategies at times of high risk. This commitment delivers on actions identified in the National Work Plan for the Prevention of Bushfire Arson.

  • Following the presentation, the Attorney-General announced his intention to jointly write with Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, to State and Territory Police Ministers seeking their support for the use of the National Police Reference System as a mechanism for creating a national database of arsonists. 

Community Education and Engagement

While detecting and prosecuting arsonists is important, it does not represent a complete solution to the issue. Better community education and engagement is equally, if not more important in preventing arson before it actually occurs.

Australian fire agencies have a long history of running programs and promoting community safety to reduce the incidence and potential damage of fires. Programs in schools, the promotion of devices such as smoke alarms, advice on the preparation and defence of property and other community education initiatives are already underway at a State and Territory level. Traditional bushfire prevention campaigns focus on protection against fire rather than preventing fires from starting.

Presentations under this priority area demonstrate examples of fire and police services working with schools, community groups and social services to ensure that individuals at risk of engaging in arson can be deterred.



Agenda Item 9

Title of presentation: Best practice in juvenile fire setting intervention in Australia.

Presenter: Ms Kate McDonald, Victoria University.

Overview: This presentation highlighted the risk factors of recidivist firesetters who participate in juvenile fire safety education programs in Australia.


Summary points:

  • There is some evidence to suggest that childhood interest in fire may predict adult involvement in fire.

  • Early intervention programs are paramount to addressing antisocial behaviour such as fire setting, as these behaviours are difficult to change once they are established in adults.

  • Ten evidence-based best practice benchmarks were presented to guide Australian practice. A pilot of a multidisciplinary juvenile fire setting intervention program in a selected Australian jurisdiction was recommended as the next step forward in meeting these benchmarks.



Agenda Item 10

Title of presentation: Juvenile firesetter programs: The Tasmanian experience.

Presenter: Mr Gavin Freeman, Deputy Chief Officer, Tasmania Fire Service.

Objective: This presentation provided an overview of Tasmania’s Juvenile Fire Lighter Intervention Program (JFLIP).


Summary points:

  • JFLIP is an early intervention program designed to prevent further fire lighting. Participation is voluntary and family-based.

  • The program is designed for primary school-aged children and their families, and is suitable for children who light fires out of curiosity or fascination with fire, or for experimentation.



Agenda Item 11

Title of presentation: Risk intervention: A Queensland approach to fire play, firesetting and arson.

Presenter: Mr Steve Rothwell, Assistant Commissioner Rural Operations,
Queensland Fire and Rescue Service.

Objective: This presentation will outline current Queensland initiatives and possible future developments.


Summary points:

  • Queensland has a strong focus on preventing risky behaviour of children and young people in relation to fire. The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service has undertaken innovative work in identifying communities with high arson potential to better target their education and their ‘Fighting Fascination with Fire’ program.

  • This program may serve as a model in terms of its design, comprehensiveness and evaluation.


Agenda Item 12

Title of presentation: Community response and recovery in disaster.

Presenter: Ms Lyn Gunter, Former Mayor, Murrindindi Shire Council.

Objective: This presentation provided a community’s perspective on bushfire arson. It detailed the role of the community through the devastating events of Black Saturday, and how new leaders came forward to assist in the aftermath of the fires.


Summary points:

  • The principles and lessons learned from Black Saturday could assist in community capacity-building and engagement at any level of government. They also provide information and knowledge to guide responses to the various phases of an emergency, including long term recovery efforts.

Agenda Item 13

Title of presentation: Australian Institute of Criminology’s (AIC) Bushfire Arson Prevention Handbook.


Presenter: Dr Adam Tomison, Director, AIC.

Objective: This presentation launched the AIC’s Bushfire Arson Prevention Handbook.


Summary points:

  • The Bushfire Arson Prevention Handbook was developed for use by local organisations, particularly fire agencies and the police, when developing community based bushfire arson prevention strategies.

  • It was developed as part of a four year project by the AIC, funded by the Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre, which aimed to reduce the impact of deliberately lit fires in Australian bushland environments.

  • The launch of the Handbook delivers on actions identified in the National Work Plan to Reduce Bushfire Arson in Australia and is available on the AIC’s website.


Presenter Biographies
Amanda Leck

Manager, Knowledge and Innovation, Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council

Amanda Leck is the Manager, Knowledge and Innovation with the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council. In this role she is responsible for assisting with the transfer of knowledge across the fire and emergency services sector through a range of initiatives.

Amanda has spent more than 15 years working in the areas of community safety and community development with the Country Fire Authority of Victoria and the Victorian State Government. She has a background in media and communications, and has worked to build self-reliant communities who understand and can manage risk, across a range of contexts and environments.

She has a Bachelor of Arts, with honours, and has completed a journalism cadetship.


Dr Janet Stanley
Chief Research Officer, Monash Sustainability Institute

Dr Stanley is a Chief Research Officer at the Monash Sustainability Institute, Monash University. Prior to this appointment, Janet was Senior Manager, Research and Policy, at the Brotherhood of St Laurence. In mid 2009, Janet established 'The Australian Bushfire Arson Prevention Initiative'.  

Her other research interests include social policy, transport, social exclusion, cities and community development, as they relate to sustainability and climate change. She is on the Ministerial Reference Council for Climate Change Adaptation for Victorian Minister, the Hon Gavin Jennings MP. Janet has many publications and speaks widely in Australia and internationally.

Books include ‘No Way to Go: Transport and Social Disadvantage in Australian Communities’.



Superintendent Richard Woods
Operations Manager, ACT Rural Fire Service

Richard Woods is the Operations Manager for the ACT Rural Fire Service in Canberra, holding this role since 2009. He was formally the Manager Fire Investigation for the New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service since 2001. In that role he established a Fire Investigation capability for NSW Rural Fire Service.

Prior to this role he held the position of Inspector for the Shoalhaven District on the South Coast of NSW, managing 32 Stations and 1200 fire-fighters. Whilst in this position Richard built an extensive Wildfire Investigation Program for that District, one of the first in NSW. Before coming to the NSW Rural Fire Service as an employee in 1991, Richard was a volunteer with the Service since 1976 and a Police Officer in NSW for over 9 years.

Richard has previously undertaken a number of study tours of North America reviewing fire investigation management. He has also presented a number of papers on the Wildfire Fire Investigation topic to international fora across North America.

Richard has completed a Graduate Certificate and a Diploma in Fire Investigation.

He is the current Chair of the International Association of Arson Investigators, Wildland Arson Committee; Australian representative of the North American based Wildland Fire Investigation Team and is a former President of the NSW Chapter (47) of the International Association of Arson Investigators.



Superintendent Chris Lewis

Fire Investigation and Research Unit, New South Wales Fire Brigades

Superintendent Chris Lewis has been working for the NSW Fire Brigades for over 30 years and is currently the manager of the NSW Fire Brigades Fire Investigation and Research Unit.

Previous experience includes working as Assistant Director in Strategy and Planning, Assistant Director Community Safety, and Assistant Director Information Technology.

Chris has recently completed a Doctorate in Public Policy with Charles Sturt University. Previous areas of study include a Masters of Applied Science with UWS, and a Masters in Business Administration with Deakin University.


Paul Hollowood
Detective Superintendent, Tasking and Coordination Operations, Crime Department, Victoria Police

Paul has over thirty-four years experience with Victoria Police and is presently a Detective Superintendent with the Victoria Police Crime Department.

He has an extensive array of policing experience, principally as a criminal investigator and as a leader of groups involved in major crime and organised crime investigation, counter-terrorism and criminal intelligence.

He initially gained his experience from uniform and investigative postings in the inner suburban areas of Melbourne, prior to taking up duties with various state crime squads. During that time he has performed two tours of duty with the Homicide Squad. He has been involved in the investigation of numerous high profile, complex and protracted serious crimes.

In the last few years in the role of Major Crime Tasking & Coordination Manager for Victoria Police, he has overseen the operations of many of the State’s premier investigative squads and task forces.

Paul has been awarded the National Medal and Police Service Medal. He has been conferred with a Master of Arts (Public Police and Administration), Bachelor of Arts (Criminal Justice Administration) and an Associate Diploma (Executive Leadership).

In 2000, he represented Australia in undertaking the FBI National Academy Course in North Virginia. Paul has represented Victoria Police in numerous state, national and international capacities. This includes the development of national and state-based strategies to combat crime and improve criminal investigation.

In 2005 he led the Major Crime Management Model project commencing the most comprehensive transformation undertaken in respect to the manner whereby Victoria Police approaches major crime.

In 2009 he was appointed as the Senior Investigative Officer to lead the Phoenix Task Force as part of Victoria Police’s response to the Black Saturday Bushfires. It is already the largest investigation undertaken in the over 150 year history of the Victoria Police Force.

Warwick Jones
Research Manager, Geographic Analysis, Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC)

Warwick currently leads the AIC’s research into the geography of crime and manages the bushfire arson program. Prior to joining the AIC, he developed Australia’s largest socio-economic analysis, the Australian Social and Economic Geography (AUSEG) program, and pioneered many of the techniques used to analyse complex social systems.

He has extensive research experience in climate variability/climate change, ecosystem research and integrated risk management. He has been a volunteer fire fighter for more than twenty years.  


Sarah Chidgey
Assistant Secretary, Criminal Law and Law Enforcement Branch, Attorney-General’s Department

Sarah Chidgey is the Assistant Secretary of the Criminal Law and Law Enforcement Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department.  The Branch develops policy and provides advice to government on federal criminal law and law enforcement matters, and is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Organised Crime Strategic Framework.


Prior to this Ms Chidgey was the National Security Adviser in the Office of the Attorney-General.  She has also held positions in the Security Law Branch and Regional Legal Assistance Unit of the Attorney-General’s Department and the Domestic Security Branch of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Stewart Cross
National Manager, Law Enforcement Information Services, CrimTrac

Stewart joined CrimTrac during the Agency’s inception in 2000 and has undertaken a range of management responsibilities within the Agency since that time, including the establishment and management of the Agency’s operations environment, service desks, criminal history and capability development areas. He is now responsible for the Law Enforcement Information Services Portfolio that encompasses the development, implementation and management of CrimTrac’s law enforcement information systems, National Case Management, Child Protection initiatives and the Australian National Child Offender Register, Biometrics and Automated Number Plate Recognition.


Kate McDonald
Victoria University

Biography not provided.


Gavin Freeman

Deputy Chief Officer, Tasmania Fire Service

Gavin Freeman started as a Recruit Firefighter in 1985 with the Hobart Fire Brigade. After 6 years he was promoted to Station Officer and in 1998 to District Officer. In 2009 he was promoted to Deputy Regional Chief North, and on 17 February 2010 he was formally appointed as Deputy Chief Officer. His key performances and achievements include:



  • USA deployments in 2000 and 2003 undertaking strategic command of several hundred multi-agency personnel and working in a leadership role with large scale IMT’s;

  • Victorian and NSW deployments as both Task Force Leader and Incident Controller;

  • High level state and international representation on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear fora;

  • Incident Controller of the Myer store fire. He also presented as an expert witness at the Coronial inquiry;

  • Introduction of vertical rescue to the Tasmanian Fire Service; and

  • A major influence on the introduction of nationally recognised operational training to Tasmania.

His operational experience is supported by his formal tertiary qualifications including Master of Emergency Management, Graduate Diploma in Executive Leadership, Graduate Certificate in Applied Management and Advanced Diploma in Firefighting Management.

Steve Rothwell
Assistant Commissioner Rural Operations, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service

Steve commenced his fire service career with the ACT Fire Brigade in 1977, where he served in Operations, Fire Safety and various support functions before relocating to Queensland in 1993 and based in Mackay.  In 1997 he moved to Brisbane to take up the role of Manager, Strategic Development, for the then Brisbane South Region.

Steve was appointed as Assistant Commissioner, South Western Region, in April 2002, and held this position until he was seconded into Rural Operations in July 2005.  Steve was appointed to the position of Assistant Commissioner Rural Operations in February 2006 and has responsibility for the States Rural Fire Service, which has some 35,000 volunteers. In this position, Steve is committed to continuing the development of support mechanisms and training programs to further enhance and develop the Rural Fire Service. Steve has placed a strong emphasis on improving the organisational structure, training programs, support and promotion of the Rural Fire Service.

Steve is a Graduate of the Institute of Fire Engineers and also holds postgraduate qualifications in applied management and leadership, along with a Diploma in Business Management and an Associate Diploma in Applied Science (Fire Technology).  Steve was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal in January 2005, for his services to the Queensland Rural Fire Service especially in his leadership of service delivery, training and community safety.


Lyn Gunter
Former Mayor, Murrindindi Shire Council


Lyn has been working with the community in various voluntary roles and paid board positions for 35 years. She was a councillor for 16 years, 8 years with the Shire of Yea and almost 10 years with the Murrindindi Shire. Lyn served as Mayor for five terms including through the devastating Victorian bushfires of 2009. Her emergency service work includes Controller of the Victorian State Emergency Service for 10 years, serving on the board of the Country Fire Authority and as a volunteer in Flowerdale.

Dr Adam Tomison
Director, Australian Institute of Criminology

Dr Tomison was appointed Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) in July 2009. He is internationally recognised as an expert in the field of child abuse, the prevention of child abuse and other family violence, and the development and operation of child protection and family support systems. An experienced public service executive, he has worked over the past two decades with a range of government, non-government organisations and advocacy groups, focused on child protection and child abuse prevention in Australia and overseas.

Prior to his appointment with the AIC, he was Head of the Child Protection Program at the Menzies School of Health Research. From 2004 to 2008 he held various senior executive positions within the Northern Territory Department of Health and Families, including as Director of the Northern Territory's Family and Children's Services, and as the Department's inaugural Principal Child Protection Adviser in 2004.

In 2006-07 Dr Tomison acted as the expert advisor (and Director of Policy and Research) for the 'Little Children are Sacred' Northern Territory Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse. He is perhaps best known for his work as a senior researcher with the Australian Institute of Family Studies, managing the National Child Protection Clearinghouse. Under his leadership, the Clearinghouse became a centre for excellence with a national and international reputation in the field of child abuse prevention and child protection. He subsequently developed a number of other national research and information units for the Institute, notably the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault.

Dr Tomison has made significant academic contributions to scholarly and applied research in the areas of child protection and violence prevention, including serving as a member of the editorial board of Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal. He is a frequent presenter at conferences and has regularly run educational and training seminars for professionals and the wider community.

Participants


Commonwealth

The Hon Robert McClelland MP, Commonwealth Attorney-General (Chair)

Mr Mike Rothery, First Assistant Secretary


National Security Resilience Policy, Attorney-General’s Department

Mr Mike Norris, First Assistant Secretary, National Security Capability Development Division, Attorney-General’s Department

Ms Ayesha Perry, Assistant Secretary, Emergency Management Policy Attorney-General’s Department

Ms Sarah Chidgey, Assistant Secretary, Criminal Law and Law Enforcement, Attorney-General’s Department

Mr Tony Allen, National Police Reference System, Coordinating Business Change Manager, CrimTrac

Mr Stewart Cross, National Manager, Law Enforcement Information Services, CrimTrac



National Organisations




Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council

Mr Steven Pearce, Acting Assistant Commissioner/Director Of Community Safety, New South Wales Fire Brigades

Ms Amanda Leck, Manager, Knowledge Innovation


Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council

Australian Institute of Criminology

Dr Adam Tomison, Director
Australian Institute of Criminology

Mr Warwick Jones, Research Manager, Geographic Analysis


Australian Institute of Criminology

Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre

Mr Gary Morgan, Chief Executive Officer
Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre

Australasian Assembly of Volunteer Fire Brigade Association

Mr Alan Holley, President
Australian Assembly of Volunteer Fire Brigade Associations

Monash Sustainability Institute

Dr Janet Stanley, Chief Research Officer
Monash Sustainability Institute

Non-Government




Murrindindi Shire Council

Victoria University



Ms Lyn Gunter, Former Mayor

Ms Kate McDonald, PhD Researcher



State and Territory Governments




Australian Capital Territory

Mr Roman Quaedvlieg, Chief Police Officer
ACT Police

Mr Andrew Stark, Chief Officer


ACT Rural Fire Service

Mr Richard Woods, Manager


Operations, ACT Rural Fire Service

Ms Simone Fowlie, Senior Manager


Community Based Corrections, ACT Corrective Services

Mr Peter Townsend, Manager


Corrections Programs, ACT Corrective Services

Ms Lil Hays, Acting Senior Manager, Legislation and Policy Branch


ACT Department of Justice and Community Safety

Northern Territory

Mr Mick Ayre, Assistant Director
Development and Strategy, Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service

Queensland

Mr Steve Rothwell, Assistant Commissioner
Rural Operations, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service

New South Wales

Mr Greig Newbery, Detective Superintendent, Commander
Property Crime Squad, New South Wales Police Force

Mr Geoffrey Leonard, Detective Inspector, Arson Team


Property Crime Squad, New South Wales Police Force

Mr Chris Lewis, Superintendent


New South Wales Fire Brigade

Mr Rob Rogers, Assistant Commissioner


New South Wales Rural Fire Service

Mr Steve Yorke, Chief Superintendent


New South Wales Rural Fire Service

South Australia

Mr Silvio Amoroso, Chief Superintendent
South Australia Police

Mr Leigh Miller, Manager, Prevention Services


South Australia Country Fire Service

Mr Rick Persse, Executive Director


Justice Business Services, Attorney-General’s Department, South Australia

Tasmania

Mr Scott Tilyard, Assistant Commissioner of Police
Crime and Operations, Tasmania Police

Mr Gavin Freeman, Deputy Chief Officer


Tasmania Fire Service

Victoria

Mr Kieran Walshe, Deputy Commissioner
Victoria Police

Mr Paul Hollowood, Detective Superintendent
Tasking and Coordination Operations, Crime Department, Victoria Police

Mr Ian Hunter, Commander
Fire Investigation and Analysis Unit, Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board

Mr Alexander Conway, Station Officer
Fire Investigation and Analysis Unit, Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board

Mr Frank Stockton AFSM, Commander, Acting Executive Manager Community Education, Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board

Ms Lisa Sturgenegger, Director Community Safety
Victoria Country Fire Authority

Ms Nicole Harvey, State Fire Investigation Coordinator


Victorian Country Fire Authority

Western Australia

Mr Gary Baxter, Acting District Manager
Fire Investigation Analysis Unit, Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia

Mr Ian Thompson, Detective Senior Sergeant, Officer in Charge


Police Arson Squad, Western Australia Police




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