Youth Justice Conferencing for youth misuse of fire: The influence of firefighters on conference process, outcomes, and impact

K. Pooley

Queensland University of Technology

Youth misuse of fire is a multifaceted, complex, and covert behaviour which has attracted the attention of the international community. Yet, there exists only a small body of literature analysing the phenomenon from a criminological perspective, and an absence of discourse pertaining to its tertiary prevention. In Australia, tertiary prevention of youth misuse of fire is facilitated through interagency agreements between Juvenile Justice and Fire and Rescue services. These agreements provide the framework for firefighter participation in diversionary conferencing convened for young people who have committed fire-related offences. Despite being in operation for a decade, this approach is yet to be theoretically framed or empirically evaluated.
To partially fill this void, a research-oriented evaluation has been conducted on Youth Justice Conferencing for youth misuse of fire in New South Wales. This evaluation has been designed to: examine the theoretical basis of diversionary conferencing for youth misuse of fire; examine differences in outcome plan content and recidivism rates between conferences convened with and without firefighter involvement; analyse apology letter content to explore the fire-specific messages cognisized by young people; and explore program practitioners’ perceptions of firefighter involvement and the influence this involvement may have on diversionary conference process, outcomes and impact. Findings will determine whether, and if so how, firefighter involvement influences the process, outcomes, and impact of diversionary conferencing, and thus whether diversionary conferencing with firefighter involvement facilitates youth misuse of fire prevention.


Kamarah Pooley is a PhD Candidate with Queensland University of Technology, Faculty of Law. Kamarah attained her Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and Honours in Criminology, whilst working as a career firefighter with Fire and Rescue New South Wales. Her research experience and interest centers around youth misuse of fire, its prevention, and its analysis from a criminological perspective.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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