Eyesore graffiti engulfs the streets of East Melbourne

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Kaylah Joelle Baker

Left with no choice but to take action herself, one East Melbourne resident is spending her time walking around her suburb, with a paint brush and pot in hand, to try and cover the graffiti quickly overtaking the streets.

Believing the rise of the issue is stemming from the absence of graffiti removal on the Eastern Freeway, the resident, who wished to remain anonymous, has found graffitists are now gravitating towards Hoddle St, Punt Rd and Victoria Parade, filtering in and out of the streets of East Melbourne.

“The issue with graffiti coming from the Eastern Freeway has been an ongoing issue and now it is in East Melbourne. The only way of keeping graffiti levels down is to remove it when it appears, when you leave it, it metastasises like a cancer and gets worse,” the resident said.

 

The trouble we have in East Melbourne is our houses are quite old and it is very difficult to remove graffiti from some of the surfaces because it damages them.

 

This is not the first time concerns have been expressed by the resident, who, despite having made complaints to the City of Melbourne, VicRoads and CitiPower since 2017, has had little to no resolution.

“The problem is just getting worse and the council keeps saying we are in a queue but they can’t tell us where in the queue we are. We have been waiting on that list for an awfully long time,” she said.

Now having to spend every week removing graffiti from her home, alongside many other residents whose homes have fallen victim, the East Melbourne resident is asking for the City of Melbourne to take responsibility.

Graffiti has been of great concern to the council in the past years with the City of Melbourne investing annually close to $1 million on graffiti removal.

And just last year, Carlton was considered a major focus area of the $100 million Melbourne City Recovery fund, with attention being drawn to the removal of graffiti and tagging from shopfronts, bridges and building facades.

Commenting on the positive initiative at the time, Lord Mayor Sally Capp said they were “going above and beyond to remove graffiti” situated on higher grounds.

But the graffiti blitz in Carlton has left East Melbourne residents feeling like their suburb has “fallen between the cracks”.

In a statement, the City of Melbourne said it had “received and responded to several requests for graffiti removal on private properties in the Hoddle St area in East Melbourne in the past year” and took “a strong stance against tagging and illegal graffiti”.

But according to the resident, making the situation harder to navigate and resolve for East Melbourne was the issue surrounding CitiPower and VicRoads continually pushing responsibility onto one another over the graffiti on the poles fit with both a light and a traffic signal.

And as the debate continues, the East Melbourne resident has been attending the poles on the corner of Albert and Powlett streets by painting them herself.

She reiterated that the matter remained “unresolved” and the “debate continues” despite her best efforts to contact both CitiPower and VicRoads.

“I don’t know what [the graffiti] says about the care that VicRoads has for our city and the pride that the City of Melbourne takes in the whole precinct but I would say it shows there is a distinct lack of care and attention,” she said.

In response to the claims, a Department of Transport spokesperson said it “will continue to monitor graffiti vandalism across the arterial network – including along Punt Rd, Victoria Parade and Wellington Parade – and will prioritise removal accordingly”.

“No one likes to see graffiti on our road network, and it is a constant frustration for the community and us – it is time and money that could be better spent elsewhere across the transport network.”

The spokesperson also said maintenance crews had scrubbed more than “two-and-a-half MCGs worth of graffiti” in the past year, and the constant clean-up of the city was “costing taxpayers around $1.5 million” •

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