Youngsters found guilty of vandalizing local properties will now have to remove graffiti from shop fronts, as well as the walls of homes and businesses thanks to a partnership between the City of Newcastle and the NSW Government.
Traditionally, young offenders have removed graffiti from council-owned properties as part of their community service order. From January, private property owners will be able to apply through the City of Newcastle to have graffiti removed from their home or business free of charge, on a 12-month trial.
Newcastle City CEO Jeremy Bath said the benefits of the program go far beyond cleaning up vandalized property.
“Few would know that for 20 years the City of Newcastle has been supporting young offenders through various community programs, with participants working side-by-side with our outdoor cleaning crews to learn new skills including graffiti removal. “, says Mr. Bath.
“It’s a wonderful program that teaches young offenders that community-owned buildings often house important community services that deserve to be respected and protected.
“Nearly 1,500 young people have worked with our staff over the past two decades to improve the appearance and cleanliness of the city’s CBD and, in doing so, learn new skills that encourage them to respect public property.
“Now is the time to expand the program so that home and business owners whose properties have been tagged can request that the graffiti be removed at no cost to them.
“If a resident or landlord discovers graffiti, they simply complete an online form on the City of Newcastle website and a team from the NSW Youth Justice Community Service Order Scheme will be in touch. to confirm when they will come to remove the graffiti.
Damian Baker, regional director of the Newcastle Juvenile Justice Office, said the graffiti removal program offers participants the opportunity to give back to the community while developing new skills.
“Funding provided by the City of Newcastle has helped program participants prepare for work, access employment and train through TAFE NSW and other job network providers,” said Mr. Baker.
“Our goal is to introduce young participants to the fundamental and transferable skills needed to help them stand out in a competitive labor market for low-skilled jobs.
“Newcastle’s Community Juvenile Justice Office has received many accolades from the City of Newcastle and the Department of Communities and Justice in support of the ongoing commitment to provide repair and beautification work to the city .”
Plans to resume the current graffiti removal program and added private sector service will begin from January 2022.
The City of Newcastle is supporting Youth Justice NSW and its rehabilitation program with funding to help purchase equipment, materials and personal protective equipment for participants.