Council tackles graffiti through art classes

08 Mar 2017

Newcastle City Council has teamed up with NSW Juvenile Justice and the Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) to tackle illegal street graffiti by teaching youngsters new artistic skills and how to practise their art legitimately.

The Street Art Education Program teaches pupils how to design artworks, prepare surfaces to paint them on and select the right painting materials as part of a proactive initiative to reduce illegal street graffiti, which is removed at rate payer's expense.

Four teens put their newfound skills to good use today by completing a colourful mural they designed on a shed at Wallsend Park under the mentorship of Up&Up Design's Shane Kennedy.

Deputy Lord Mayor Jason Dunn looking on as pupils completed their mural today.

"Removing graffiti has cost council around $640,000 in the past year," Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

"This initiative is a way we can proactively tackle this issue and hopefully reduce those annual costs.

"I'm very impressed with the mural the four young people have painted at Wallsend and I look forward to seeing more creations by other youths who complete this course in future."

The Street Art Education Program has incorporated the DeTag program developed by the PCYC in conjunction with the Department of Justice. The course engages young people in discussion on topics related to graffiti.

Leanne Tillock from the Newcastle Juvenile Justice Community Office said the Graffiti Art program had been a great initiative that demonstrated how partnerships can achieve fantastic results.

“The program educates young people about the cost of graffiti to themselves and the community," Tillock said. "It builds a sense of pride and respect for public spaces, and reinforces pro-social beliefs about the role of graffiti art in urban culture.

“The participants relished the opportunity to use their skills constructively. They took the project very seriously, putting a lot of thought into the design and I am really proud of what they have achieved.”

Councillor Dunn with Leanne Tillock from Juvenile Justice

Newcastle City Council has a full-time graffiti and rapid response team that operates four vehicles equipped with high pressure washers and cleaning chemical in a continuous fight against illegal graffiti.

The crews work from 6am five days a week, weekends when required and following major events across the city.

Street Art Education program mentors Shane Kennedy (left) and Callum Lourensz from Up&Up Design
Council provides ongoing grant funding to Juvenile Justice for graffiti removal and this year adopted a more proactive approach through the six-week Street Art Education Program.

The course addresses the difference between illegal graffiti and legal public art; challenges criminal attitudes to graffiti-related offending; helps develops creative skills; and increases pride in public spaces.