Council seeks joint effort to rid the city of graffiti

Brendan Rees

The City of Melbourne has sought the “urgent assistance” of the state government as it battles to fight a 60 per cent increase in graffiti and tagging since the pandemic began.

It comes as the council carried out a graffiti blitz in March, which saw clean-up crews target Docklands, South Wharf, the Hoddle Grid, and Southbank areas.

About 14,000 square metres of graffiti was removed – the equivalent of 50 tennis courts – after reports of graffiti almost tripled in volume since the launch of the blitz program.

The average time between graffiti being reported and cleaned was five days, which resulted in over a 70 per cent reduction in days for completion, compared to January.

The blitz will soon cover the Carlton, East Melbourne, and Parkville areas, which will be completed by the end of June.

However, Lord Mayor Sally Capp conceded “we don’t have the unlimited resources to just keep cleaning” and successfully moved a motion at council’s April 29 meeting in which she requested the City of Melbourne work with the state government, Victoria Police, and M9 councils (an inner city-advocacy group) in a “coordinated approach to graffiti deterrents.”

“We’re seeing that heightened increase of tagging. We absolutely have to look more broadly and use the data more deeply and efforts to deter and prevent,” she said.

Cr Capp said the joint approach would mean “our city has an opportunity not just to recover, but to literally be a city that can welcome people with its beautiful buildings, beautiful, physical environment that is not impacted in such a negative way by tagging and graffiti.”

Carlton Residents’ Association president Antionette Sagaria said more effort was needed in terms of graffiti prevention measures like education and diversionary programs to put offenders “on a better path.”

“It’s all well and good cleaning it off, but why don’t we look at why it happens in the first place,” she said.

“Everything that happens is reactionary, and we’re not looking at being proactive.”

“I think people in the area are fed-up there’s not enough action and it just keeps happening. They do a blitz, it all looks clean for about 24 hours and that’s it.”

According to a council report, “The blitz has had a noticeable impact on graffiti management and the cleanliness of the city.”

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