|Title||Youth justice conferencing for youth misuse of fire: a case study of collaboration|
|Publication Type||Conference Paper|
|Year of Publication||2017|
|Publisher||Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC|
Youth misuse of fire (YMF) refers to any illegitimate use of fire or incendiary materials by a person under the age of 18 years (Pooley & Ferguson, 2017). Existing literature exposes YMF as a multifaceted and complex behaviour (Martin, Bergen, Richardson, Roeger, & Allison, 2004) that presents a significant risk to life and property (Pooley, 2015). To address this concern, programs have been specifically designed to target and reduce misuse of fire by young people. One such program is Youth Justice Conferencing for YMF. This program involves firefighter participation in Youth Justice Conferencing convened for young people who commit fire-related offences. The role of firefighters is to provide education on the consequences of misusing fire and to suggest fire safety related tasks for a young person to complete as a means of making reparation for harm caused by their behaviour (NSW Government, 2016). These mechanisms aim to stimulate cognitive and behavioural change in young people, reducing the risk of recidivism.
Despite formally operating in New South Wales (NSW) since 2006, this program had not undergone independent empirical inquiry. To partially fill this void, a research-oriented evaluation was conducted. This evaluation revealed that the efficacy of the program relies heavily on successful collaboration between urban fire and juvenile justice services, government and non-government entities, and young people and adults. However, the evaluation also highlighted areas in need of improvement. For best practice to be attained, collaboration is also required with the rural fire service, between practitioners and researchers, and between proponents of restorative justice, fire prevention, and child-centred disaster risk reduction. Such findings have implications for enhancing the efficacy of the program, and reflect a useful case study of collaboration.