Melton Graffiti Preventative Education and Street Art Activation Program

Four years ago if you were driving down a
street in Melton you’d find graffiti on just about everything you looked at, NBN boxes
on the side of the road, telephone boxes, light poles, shop walls, graffiti was pretty
rampant. It was really quite ugly. We’ve got a crew on the ground every day,
five days a week, and that’s how we hit it. I think last year, in a calendar year, we
removed over 20,000 square metres of graffiti. So to put that in perspective, if you picture
a line a metre wide that’s 20 kilometres worth of graffiti. Our scope has now changed a little. So we went from just tidying up the city to now
working out how we can prevent the graffiti from coming back. We received $25,000 from the Victorian Government which we leveraged with over $50,000 in an
education project that reached all the schools in our community. But what the grant enabled
us to do was round out the project to reach lots of different community groups and all
ages and stages, and engage them all with the idea of positive, fun street art in our
city spaces. There was an exhibition and a series of workshops
by HAHA. There were two commissions, one on a large
wall, one in a laneway by well-known street artists and our young local artists. And there
was a large education project that reached all the schools in the city. Often you’ll find within councils the most prevalent form of graffiti is actually tagging,
and it starts in the schools, and it starts on desk and lockers and toilet doors, and
we call that toilet door graffiti. And then from there it can actually progress to the
wider community. So the intervention program is designed to
come in at that early age and shape attitudes, and therefore behaviours. So really what we’re
looking at is preventing those young people from actually getting into the graffiti and
being schooled by the older generation to do that as well. Every single student that walked into the library for the performance, the presentation,
took note very, very quickly that it’s something different, something new. They weren’t fully
aware of what the content was, but you could see very, very quickly, within moments of
the introduction, that the hardest to reach of our community were engaged, were listening. From there we looked further up the chain to young people who are at risk and who might
already be tagging and how do we engage them. And then also how do we provide a broader
opportunity for people to interact with our city spaces positively and to see street art
as something that can actually be a career pathway and a creative outlet, and something
that’s embraced by the community. So this was, I guess, an opportunity for them
to get a really considered piece up onto a wall, you know, working with the crew as well.
So it wasn’t just what they thought looked good, it was also the aesthetic of the overall
image to which I hope helps them in the artistic journey later on What we learnt is that the community are open to street art, and want to see more. And there
was a really positive response to that. I think it contributes to the sense of community
pride because people see that all there and they can see that something positive is being
done in the neighbourhood. If you look around us now you can hardly see
any graffiti. The only thing we can see on a wall now is that beautiful mural. I think we’ve only had one report of graffiti in here in the last eight months, just over
the taxi stand over there. Prior to that we were coming in here weekly, fortnightly, and
removing massive amounts, you know, kids’ tags and things.
It’s really complemented what we do. It saved us for starters a bit of time and a bit of
money in cleaning that, but there’s some artists with their stuff on a wall now which is also
a bonus.

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