This page provides information and guidance to support councils to effectively design and deliver a graffiti education program for young people. You can download this information as a fact sheet at the end of the page.
The Graffiti Prevention Grants program requires all projects with a public art or mural component to include a structured education program for any young people directly participating in the project.
Why is an education program important?
A well-designed anti-graffiti education program, tailored to the particular needs of the participants, can encourage and inspire young people to channel their creativity into rewarding, legal pursuits. It can also help minimise the risk of criticism that by engaging young people in delivering murals and other public art and helping to improve their artistic skills, councils are encouraging their engagement in illegal graffiti .
What content should be covered?
Councils may wish to consider the following themes when designing the content of an anti-graffiti education program:
- What is graffiti?
- Understanding the difference between urban art and illegal graffiti
- Cost to the community (including money that could be spent on other things to benefit young people)
- Impacts on residents and visitors, including the impact on perceptions of safety
- Impact on businesses
Consequences of engaging in illegal graffiti
- Offences and penalties
- Police search powers
- Potential impacts of becoming engaged in the criminal justice system:
- on families
- on future employment and travel prospects
- Safety during commission of offences – falls, trains, etc.
Ways to discourage others from engaging in illegal graffiti
- Role of peer pressure – positive or negative
- How to deal with friends engaging in illegal graffiti
Alternatives to engaging in illegal graffiti
- Opportunities in graphic design including local courses
- Other ways of getting involved in their local community (e.g. youth councils)
- Getting involved in legitimate art projects
- How to get permission from property owners to do work on their walls
Who should deliver the program?
- Facilitators delivering the program should be selected based on having the following qualities: an engaging style, ability to develop a rapport with young people and knowledge or expertise in illegal graffiti prevention.
- Involvement may be sought from local education providers, youth-focused services and organisations, and police with the qualities above.
- If approaching Victoria Police, Youth Resource Officers have particular skills in working with young people, and a less formal approach that may be effective when discussing the penalties and consequences of illegal graffiti activity.
- Some councils have engaged street artists, including those who may have been former graffiti vandals, to deliver the education component as part of an overall public art or mural project. In engaging artists for this activity, councils should ensure the educational component is clearly specified and that the artist is capable of appropriately delivering the key messages.
How should a program be delivered?
- It is key that the education component be delivered in a style and setting appropriate to engage the young people involved.
- The program may take the form of a one-off workshop, or a series of sessions or activities over a longer time period. Keep in mind the attention span of participants, which may be very short.
- Lecturing styles of delivery should be minimised and information delivery should be regularly interspersed with hands-on, practical activities to maintain interest and encourage engagement and collaboration among participants.
- The program may involve the young people in the production of media (e.g. DVD or posters) with their own messages around the unacceptability of illegal graffiti.
- Consider how the program may contribute to the broader evaluation of the project – this may include getting feedback from those involved in the education program at its completion.
Several Victorian councils have implemented anti-graffiti education projects; their experience may be useful to others designing their own program. See the projects delivered by Greater Shepparton, Greater Geelong and Knox City councils, and other information on graffiti that may be useful.
The NSW Crime Prevention Division’s report on the motivations and methods of graffiti writers and the Australian Institute of Criminology’s Research in Practice Report “Key issues in graffiti” contain useful background information that may assist program designers and facilitators.
 NSW Department of Justice and Attorney General (2009) Graffiti Vandalism: The motivations and modus operandi of persons who do graffiti, Crime Prevention Division, Sydney.