Fast facts

Project name: What are you looking at?

Organisation: Warrnambool City Council

Grant fund: Graffiti Prevention Grant

Grant amount: $25,000

Co-contribution: $11,450

Project partners: Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative, Brophy Youth Services, Warrnambool Art Gallery, Warrnambool Police, Leadership Great South Coast Group, The F Project art collective

Warrnambool City Council has taken a creative approach to graffiti prevention in urban areas with its What are you looking at? project.

Warrnambool Police reported a 60.9 per cent increase in illegal graffiti in the 2012-13 financial year, occurring mostly in intersecting laneways, rear-facing shop fronts and bus shelters. The increase in graffiti and overall tired state of the city centre had the community feeling increasingly insecure in these areas, often avoiding them altogether.

Through the What are you looking at? project, prominent urban sites and graffiti hotspots in Warrnambool have been revitalised with high quality artworks. These included the Ngatanwarr mural, a pedestrian culvert and the Lake Pertrobe playground maze.

The Ngatanwarr mural was a joint project led by the Leadership Great South Coast Group with Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative. Other partners included The F Project art collective, Warrnambool Art Gallery and Brophy Youth Services who supported all three projects, assisting with workshop delivery, providing industry-specific support and artist sourcing.

To decrease the likelihood of the artworks being tampered with or tagged, well-known, high-level street artists were engaged to collaborate with participants through skills workshops to create the artworks. There was also a strong element of education and community engagement for high-risk offenders incorporated into the project.

Since the completion of the project, the artworks have not been targeted by graffiti and have significantly added to the visual amenity of the area. The engagement with high-risk offenders has encouraged a sense of ownership and a greater understanding of the differences between street art and illegal graffiti. Council is investigating ongoing opportunities to incorporate street art into future infrastructure projects.

The project has also helped strengthen the relationship between local organisations. The partnership approach for the Ngatanwarr mural was the first time Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative has worked with Council or Warrnambool Police for some time. It is anticipated that these re-established relationships will open up opportunities for future projects.

Council has received overwhelmingly positive responses from the community for the artworks, which also gained significant coverage through local media outlets. The Ngatanwarr mural in particular generated buzz on social media channels and has become a focus for local story telling and community engagement.

To learn more about the development of this impressive art piece view the project video (External link).