Graffiti – A Community Initiative in Greater Geelong
Based on a strong commitment to community involvement, the Strategy is framed around three
key elements: rapid removal, prevention and policing.

Like many solutions, the Graffiti Strategy is working because it gets back to basics. People
from business, schools, neighbourhoods and community groups are involved at every step.

The Strategy is flexible, allowing different approaches for different areas, and provides a range
of opportunities for action and results. To date more than fifty community initiatives have been
undertaken or are in progress.

The energy and enthusiasm of the Geelong community is vital to the continued success of the
Graffiti Strategy. Together we are translating a passion for change and improvement into

Local solutions to local problems
As one of Australia‟s largest municipalities, the City of Greater Geelong covers some 1200
square kilometres of rural, coastal and urban areas: each area with its own challenges. One of
the principles underpinning our new approach is to recognise that there are different ways of
addressing issues in different communities.

In developing the graffiti policy we have taken the very best of previous approaches and
research. We continue to look for innovative solutions as well as the tried and tested. The
problem of graffiti cannot be solved by government and legislation alone. Only through support
from all sectors of the community can we successfully reduce graffiti.

An integrated approach
No single response to graffiti will achieve the results possible with a well co-ordinated,
integrated approach. In Geelong there is an equal commitment to the three elements of the
strategy: Rapid Removal, Prevention and Policing. It is recognised that in all of these the City
must engage the community and build strong links to community actions.

In addition the City has identified other local government responses to adapt successful
strategies and learn from these experiences. The City of Greater Geelong model for managing
graffiti is one that several local governments have shown interest in adopting.
What are we doing about graffiti?
In the past graffiti had been tackled by several areas of the City. However there was a growing
body of Australian and international research suggesting that only through coordinated and
comprehensive community effort could graffiti be substantially minimised. In response, Council
adopted a graffiti policy in August 2001.

Prior to the policy being adopted, the City spent approximately $150,000 per year on graffiti
removal. The new integrated approach goes much further than the traditional removal/law and
order approach by including aspects of social crime prevention and opportunity reduction. To
give the Graffiti Strategy the best chance of success, funding has increased across a number
of areas. We are pleased to report that although the Strategy is still in its early stages, the
City‟s investment is paying off with a measurable decrease in the incidence of graffiti across the
City. See p16 for more information about the graffiti audit.

Graffiti policy
The Council adopted a graffiti policy in 2001. The aim of the policy is to minimise the incidence
of graffiti across the City. To achieve this aim the Graffiti Strategy was developed. There are
three key elements to the Strategy:
            1. Rapid removal
            2. Prevention
            3. Policing

Across the three approaches of rapid removal, prevention and policing there are some fifty
different community initiatives for reducing and managing graffiti.

The underpinning principle is of partnerships, both within Council and with all interested parties
in the community. None of the elements works without community involvement. For example,
rapid removal relies on residents and business being vigilant about removing graffiti from their
property. Prevention is about the community applying smart design principles to their property,
and the success of the policing element is dependent upon people reporting graffiti.

A graffiti project worker was appointed in 2001 to work with all stakeholders in the development
of the Strategy.

City and community partnerships
Partnerships between local government and the community are vital if we are to have a real
impact on reducing the incidence of graffiti. To kickstart the concept of partnerships, the Graffiti
Reference Group was set up. Made up of six community representatives, the Graffiti Reference
Group continues to be active in developing the Strategy, identifying priority issues and ensuring
partnership opportunities are optimised.

In the early days of developing the Strategy, a series of public meetings were held. The
meetings were lively and positive. There were people from all age groups and backgrounds
with a common interest in working together to reduce graffiti. As well as explaining the aim of
the City‟s graffiti policy, the meetings were a brainstorming session of ideas – many of the
ideas suggested have been incorporated into the Graffiti Strategy.

Since the adoption of the policy, links between the City and community stakeholders have
strengthened. These include links with Victoria Police, Local Safety Committee, Geelong
Community Correctional Services, Police Community Consultative Committee, Barwon
Adolescent Task Force, Magistrates Court, Geelong Chamber of Commerce, Neighbourhood
Watch, Neighbourhood Houses, Guide and Scout groups, youth agencies and young people,
schools and Lions and Rotary Clubs.

As well as external relationships, it has been vital for the City to strengthen internal
relationships between departments. For example, there now exist clear connections between
Youth Development, Community Development, Engineering Services, Property Services,
Project Implementation, Local Laws, Recreation, Marketing & Communication, Customer
Service and all outdoor staff across the graffiti policy area. An internal Graffiti Task Group
ensures all areas are working closely together.

Community enthusiasm for the Graffiti Strategy has been extremely positive, and there are a
number of projects getting results. The projects are all simple but effective and demonstrate
what can be achieved with a cross-community approach.

Positive media coverage of several projects has encouraged other local business and
community groups to become involved.

Adopt a bus shelter
A joint initiative between the City, Police Community Consultative Committee and
Neighbourhood Watch groups involved the monitoring of bus shelters along the Deakin
University route. Over a four-month trial period local Neighbourhood Watch volunteers each
„adopted‟ a couple of bus shelters to monitor and remove graffiti as soon as it appeared. All
volunteers were supplied with a graffiti removal kit from the City. Details of repeat graffiti tags
were passed on to Police. District Inspector Colin Farnsworth said the pilot program targeting
the 17 bus shelters along the Deakin University route showed that rapid removal of graffiti tags
was key to preventing further vandalism. The program has now been extended to the 380 bus
shelters across the municipality. To speed up removal, a system is now in place for bus drivers
to report graffiti as it appears. [add pic – Geelong Advertiser 24 Nov 2001]

Corio residents – rapid removal
Corio resident Bill Cherry was tired of repeat graffiti appearing in his neighbourhood. He
approached the City to see what he could do about it. For over a year now, Bill and a handful of
his neighbours have kept a close eye on problem sites and, with paint supplied by the City,
remove graffiti as soon as it appears. „I‟d heard that rapid removal was the best deterrent – and
it seems to be working‟ said Mr Cherry. [add pic – M&C system – Gmag winter ed 2002]

Waterfront art workshops and exhibition
For the second year running, art workshops were held on the Waterfront over the March long
weekend. The workshops were part of larger weekend celebrations that drew over 10,000
people to the Waterfront. Using the medium of large canvas boards, young participants created
aerosol art. The works were later displayed in the windows of vacant shops in Moorabool
Street. In a popular side project, artists were invited to create designs on hub caps for an
upcoming exhibition. Both projects were a great success with participants and spectators, and
highlighted the diverse skills and effects that can be achieved with aerosol.

Rapid removal
Removing graffiti as soon as possible after it appears is the best deterrent. The City‟s policy is
to remove offensive graffiti from City property within 24 hours. Other types of graffiti are
removed from Council property within five working days of reporting.

City Graffiti Information 52 270 270
Residents are encouraged to telephone the City for information about preventing and removing
graffiti. Ideas for community projects are most welcome and should be referred to the Graffiti
Project Worker.

Removal of graffiti on private property is the responsibility of the property owner. Ideally,
residents and businesses should aim for removal within 24 hours as the longer the graffiti stays
visible, the more satisfaction the graffitist will enjoy. It is also much easier to remove graffiti
within the first 24 hours.

Graffiti Removal Guide
A graffiti removal guide for residents is available from Customer Service Centres and the City
web site: . See Appendix A.

Local law – graffiti on private property
A local law to enforce the removal of graffiti from private property was adopted by Council in
February 2003. The aim of the law is to provide a mechanism to enforce removal of
longstanding offensive graffiti from private property. Though it is not envisaged that the law will
need to be used regularly, it is needed for rare circumstances in which all other attempts to
have graffiti removed are frustrated. One example of the need for the local law involves
offensive graffiti on the roof of a shopping centre. Despite repeated requests from a primary
school that overlooks the site, and pleas from the general public to remove the graffiti, the
owner refused to do so. The City‟s request for removal now has legal backing.

Fortunately most business owners are very conscientious about graffiti removal.

Graffiti removal voucher
In recognition of business efforts to remove graffiti, a one-off $50 voucher, redeemable for paint
or paint removal services, is available to traders in the Geelong Central Activities Area. So far
approximately 30 traders have taken up the voucher offer.

Fennell‟s Doll Hospital is a landmark business in Little Malop Street. Generations of children
have taken their „sick‟ dolls to Fennell‟s for „treatment‟. Over a period of 35 years in Little Malop
Street, Mrs Fennell has spent much time and resources on painting out graffiti, and was
delighted to use a $50 voucher for painting services. The voucher is a token of the City‟s
gratitude for Fennell‟s ongoing commitment to keeping Little Malop Street looking good.

Community removal projects
There are a growing number of cross-community projects operating as part of the rapid
removal element of the graffiti action plan. As well as the residents‟ and Neighbourhood Watch
initiatives detailed on p8, Geelong Community Correctional Services are also making significant
inroads into reducing graffiti around the City. At a corporate level, VicRoads has begun a new
graffiti removal and prevention program with input from the City.

Community Corrections Graffiti Crew
One of the most successful projects is the partnership between the City and Geelong
Community Correctional Services. The Graffiti Crew is made up of offenders who have been
ordered by the courts to perform community service orders. Travelling around the municipality
every Monday in a City-sponsored bus, the Crew paint out graffiti on public property. City
Contracts Inspector Brendan Lloyd said the Crew “makes a huge impact on graffiti and saves
ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars every year”. Michelle Dean was the coordinator
with Geelong Community Correctional Services at the start of the program and says that
performing valuable community work often „changed attitudes‟ of those involved. “Frequently
they develop a real pride in their work. It‟s not unusual for our workers to act as unofficial
watchdogs around the City, long after they have finished serving their orders.” Convicted
graffitists may be ordered by the Court to undertake community service involving time with the
Graffiti Crew. Offenders often develop a sense of ownership that works against the graffiti
culture. “Increasingly the graffitists know they‟re being watched”, said Brendan Lloyd. “And the
tactic is working – the rate of repeat attacks on public property is definitely dropping.” [add pic
from Gmag winter ed 2002]

In conjunction with the City, VicRoads has developed a more streamlined and efficient graffiti
reporting system. High profile sites such as the James Harrison Bridge are monitored and
instances of graffiti quickly reported. Clean up is coordinated by the City and conducted by the
Geelong Community Correctional Services or other community removal projects.

There is a wide range of strategies to prevent graffiti. The City applies graffiti prevention
strategies in all its urban planning and design, and encourages similar approaches in
residential and commercial areas. Planning and design is one of the main ways people can
reduce the incidence of graffiti on private property.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)
CPTED promotes the use of vegetation, lighting and a range of materials and coatings to
prevent graffiti. City Planning uses the principles of CPTED in all design of public spaces.

The aim of CPTED is to encourage safety in the public environment. This is achieved by
ensuring people don‟t feel trapped or secluded in a public space, that there is a choice of
movement, visual sightlines between areas remain open, and there are no hidden corners or
doorways. Planting, lighting, building and material design are important elements of CPTED.

The principles of CPTED are also encouraged in private developments. Good lighting and the
use of surfaces that are not conducive to graffiti are simple means of graffiti prevention. Large
blank rendered walls, for example, provide the perfect canvas for graffitists. Residents are
advised to „design out‟ graffiti opportunities by varying large surfaces with different materials,
windows etc.

Waterfront Geelong
The Waterfront is a successful example of a public space designed according to CPTED
principles. When driving or walking along the Waterfront there is good visual amenity, and in
most places you can see a long way ahead. The area is well lit, and surfaces are varied in
texture. For example exposed aggregate may be set next to a rendered surface that is broken
up with timber and metal elements. Through the use of CPTED design principles the
opportunity for graffiti has been significantly reduced. To reinforce the perception of public
safety, there is fast action to remove any graffiti that appears. [insert pic]

Geelong Chamber of Commerce Traders’ Accord
In response to concerns about graffiti, the Geelong Chamber of Commerce is developing a
Traders‟ Accord. Lawrie Miller, Executive Director of the Geelong Chamber of Commerce, says
the aim of the Accord is to minimise access to aerosol paint to help avoid its mis-use. „The
Accord is designed to be a guideline for retailers, and will be a concise document of suggested
sales, display, advertising and monitoring techniques. Retailers who sign up to the Accord will
not only be helping to minimise access to aerosol paint, but should also increase their
profitability.‟ Retailers who stock aerosol paint will be invited to sign up to the Accord. For more
information about involvement in the Traders‟ Accord contact the Geelong Chamber of
Commerce ph 5222 2234.

Graffiti Prevention Guide
A Graffiti Prevention Guide with practical strategies for minimising the risk graffiti on private
property is available from all Customer Service Centres and from the City web site See Appendix B.

Innovation - graffiti as art
An important and interesting element of graffiti prevention is the upskilling of young people by
directing their creative talents into constructive community projects. City Community
Development and Youth Development are working closely with other agencies, schools and
business to encourage the development of original ideas and programs.

In the future there may be places for the ongoing exhibition of graffiti as an art form to
encourage graffitists to work with the community.

Mural program
Although graffiti is a public form of expression, there are few legal opportunities for graffitists to
practise their craft.

There are a growing number of mural projects in the City, often cooperative ventures between
business owners and young people, or within schools. The finished work is undoubtedly
creative and often inspirational. People who have been involved in the mural projects have
pointed out that the final product is not the only outcome. All parties learn valuable skills during
the planning and negotiation stages of the artwork. An example of a recent mural project
includes the striking and popular work on the wall of the Minerva Road shopping strip (front
cover picture) – a joint initiative between café owner xxxxx and artist Pete Zimmer. Equally
popular is the health-themed mural in the cafeteria of the Flinders Peak Secondary College.

Pete Zimmer – case study of an artist
At the age of 13 Pete started out with an aerosol can, mostly creating art with his friends on
garage walls „whenever we could convince someone to give us their wall‟. While at school,
Pete admits that he was never a model student and his life could have gone in a number of
directions. Now 26, Pete credits his involvement in graffiti art as being key to pulling himself out
of his old troubled life. „ Participating in the Union Street mural was a turning point,‟ says Pete. I
saw that through being involved in art, and making a serious effort, people were willing to
forgive me for my past. And the more I got involved the more it helped.‟
Pete is now in demand for his skills, and is busy coordinating mural projects for the City as well
as running workshops for young people. „I run a workshop every Tuesday for kids‟ says Pete. I
try to encourage their artistic ability and help them see that there is more to art than the aerosol
can.‟ Pete says his family are „over the moon‟ about his new life. Pete now plans to study
towards a Certificate in Youth Work but also keep on doing what he loves – helping others to
value their creativity and themselves. [add pic of Pete at Windsor Park Skate Park – Geelong
News 23 Apr 02 p20] [Copy awaiting PZ approval]

City lane ongoing mural project
Due to start soon, a central Geelong project is a new take on mural art. To be trialled over a
six-month period, a wall of a laneway in central Geelong will be available for young people to
create their art at any time of the day or night. The project is a joint initiative between business
and youth. Artists are free to express themselves however they wish as long as they work
within certain boundaries and conditions.

Union Street
Union Street is in Central Geelong and is a thoroughfare between busy Ryrie Street and Little
Malop Street. The outer wall of the Reject Shop facing Union Street had been a target for
graffiti for a number of years. In 1999 a group of young people and the City joined forces to
paint an aerosol mural. Four years later, as part of the ongoing strategy to prevent graffiti, the
City has engaged seven young people in a paid project to update the mural. The project
involves established community artists to act as mentors and provide positive experiences of
community art for this group of young people whose main art style is aerosol art. Developed in
conjunction with local traders, the project will have a life span of 3-5 years.

As graffiti is a criminal offence, policing is a key element of the Graffiti Strategy. The City sees
its role as one of support, and is fortunate to enjoy a close working relationship with local
Police. The City and Police are joint representatives on numerous graffiti-related committees
and working groups, as well as being partners in several community action projects.

Victoria Police Graffiti Hotline 52 25 3297
This hotline is a central line for the reporting of graffiti across the City. In the past much of the
graffiti has not been reported and so does not show up in Police statistics.

Graffiti Database
A Police database is being compiled of repeat tags, linking them to known offenders. This has
enabled some cross-referencing for tags photographed by City staff. Several community
projects feed into the database by volunteers completing forms detailing repeat tags. Police
may then photograph tags for input to the system.

Local Safety Plan
As co-members of the Local Safety Committee, the City, Police and Neighbourhood Watch are
working to educate the community to report graffiti through the Victoria Police Graffiti Hotline 52
25 3297. Communication strategies include prompting the media to run positive stories of
community projects that are successfully reducing graffiti, with mention of the importance of
reporting graffiti.

Measuring the Graffiti Strategy
The public perception is that a high graffiti area is an indication of a high crime and/or violence
prone area. By reducing the visibility of graffiti people feel more confident about public safety.

The key objective of the Graffiti Strategy is to reduce the amount of graffiti. In the Adopt A Bus
Shelter project it became clear that repeat graffiti attacks were reducing to the extent that at
some sites graffiti is now almost zero. The re-visit rate is one indicator of success. A more
comprehensive indicator is the Graffiti Audit.

Graffiti Audit
The Graffiti Audit is designed to accurately measure the effectiveness of the Graffiti Strategy.
The Audit is an ongoing process and includes the measurement of graffiti on City property,
assets of other authorities and private property. Each area is audited before a community
project starts, and then re-audited a few months later. Results are sometimes surprising. For
example in one audit area 80 percent of graffiti was on private property.

Results from community projects are promising. For example in the Corio area, graffiti was
reduced by 1,569 square metres, a 96 percent improvement, over a twelve-month period.
During this period there were a number of community initiatives operating including a bus
shelter monitoring and painting program, fence painting by Geelong Community Correctional
Services and Neighbourhood Watch reporting and removal projects.

In the Ocean Grove area over the same twelve-month period, graffiti was reduced by 72
percent. The Neighbourhood House was active in creating diversionary projects for young
people, as were the primary school, Rotary Club and local traders through removal and
reporting initiatives. A bus shelter monitoring and painting program as well as fence painting by
Geelong Community Correctional Services also played a significant role in decreasing graffiti.

Graffiti Reference Group
The Graffiti Reference Group (GRG) was set up on adoption of the graffiti policy in 2001. The
GRG guides development of the Strategy and highlights priority areas. Comprising six
community representatives and two Councillors, the GRG meets monthly. The GRG takes an
active interest in Strategy implementation and also evaluates progress.

Budget expenditure
City spending on graffiti removal is spread across a number of budget areas. Often graffiti
removal spending may be „hidden‟ in general repairs or vandalism costs so it is difficult to
pinpoint a total spend. The Infrastructure budget includes a $246,000 allocation for the Graffiti
Strategy. This is used for removal projects such as fence painting, bus shelter maintenance,
prevention projects and other initiatives. Other departments may spend part of their budgets on
removal from City assets such as toilet blocks, recreation facilities and public buildings.

Media and community responses
It is well known that media reporting of graffiti leads to more graffiti. With this in mind, the City
has carefully considered any publicity of the Strategy and its initiatives. All communication is
undertaken with an underlying philosophy of supporting community action, rather than
perpetuating a culture of acceptance and hopelessness about the issue of graffiti. A campaign
to raise community awareness of the Strategy continues, of which media coverage is a
significant yet not overt part. The positive involvement of young people continues to be an

important element in communicating the Strategy. The number of individuals and organisations
contacting the City with ideas and wanting to become involved can be attributed in part to
supportive news coverage by local media.

Index of initiatives
Adopt A Bus Shelter - Belmont Neighbourhood Watch, Local Safety Committee, Police
Community Consultative Committee
Barwon Heads Festival of the Sea 2003 - graffiti art project
Central Geelong laneway - mural project
City of Greater Geelong Graffiti Information Hotline ph 5227 0270
Corio residents – removal project
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)
Flinders Peak Secondary College – mural
Geelong Chamber of Commerce Traders‟ Accord
Geelong Lions Club – fence painting, Mervyn St Reserve, Newtown
Geelong Police Graffiti Hotline ph 5225 3297
Graffiti Crew – Geelong Community Correctional Services
Graffiti Prevention Guide
Graffiti Project Worker ph 5227 0270
Graffiti Reference Group
Graffiti Removal Guide
Graffiti removal voucher program
Graffiti Task Force – cross-City department representatives
Grovedale – fence painting
Lara Girl Guides – rapid removal
Lara Lions Club – reporting
Lara Pool – community reporting letter-drop campaign
Local law – graffiti on private property
Local Safety Plan
Madden Avenue, Geelong West – fence painting
Minerva Road – mural
National Youth Week 2002 public art project – graffiti on canvas, Johnstone Park
Ocean Grove Neighbourhood House – graffiti clean up group
Ocean Grove Neighbourhood House – mural painting
Ocean Grove Neighbourhood House – public meeting
Ocean Grove Primary School and Rotary Club of Ocean Grove – anti-graffiti bumper sticker
City Hall – public meeting
Pako Festa mural project 2003
Rosewall Primary School, Kindergarten and Neighbourhood House – fence painting project
Union Street mural 2003
Waterfront art workshops and exhibition 2003 – aerosol on canvas and hub caps
Windsor Park Skate Park – mural

Note: This index includes most, but not all, Graffiti Strategy initiatives


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