No backing down as passionate resident continues to rid the streets of graffiti
By Brendan Rees
A long-time Docklands business owner who took matters into his own hands by cleaning up graffiti has hit the streets again – only this time he has the community right behind him.
Andrew Ward, who operates PUSH! Fitness on Collins St, said he had bought some more paint – worth more than $100 – to paint over graffiti on several light posts along Collins St, saying the problem was an “ongoing saga”.
“Every light post in Docklands is still graffitied. I’m not going to wait for the council, so I just did it myself,” he said.
“We’ve got workers coming back and I don’t want Docklands to look like the Bronx.”
His latest clean-up operation comes after Mr Ward spent hours out of his own time painting over graffiti at the corner of Collins St and Harbour Esplanade in September, which was published in last month’s edition of Docklands News.
“It took me two half solid days not including my time to go buy paint and rollers,” he said.
Unfortunately, the vandals returned and defaced a section of the same wall on October 22, but within 24 hours it was gone thanks to Mr Ward.
“Bad luck mate,” Mr Ward wrote on Facebook to the culprit. “I am in Docklands for the next 10 years so don’t waste your time.”
Mr Ward has since won the support of the community – and even the local police – who have encouraged him “to keep it up”.
It’s resonating with people. I’ve had people I don’t even know in the street come up to me … and thanked me for cleaning up Docklands.
“A police car drove past and wound down their window and said, ‘G’day mate, how’s it going?’ I said, ‘Yep, good, I’m just cleaning up this graffiti’, and they said, ‘Good on you’.”
According to Mr Ward, he had raised the issue of graffiti with the City of Melbourne but had heard “nothing” and was so far “$450 out of pocket and counting”, but reiterated he was not wanting compensation.
“I’ve got better things to do than [clean up] graffiti but at the same time when it comes to our amenity in Docklands, I don’t want the immediate environment around our businesses to be at that standard.”
Mr Ward said he also spoke on 3AW to voice his concerns about crime and graffiti in the municipality, saying the council was “letting the city go” – which earned him a $200 voucher for being caller of the week.
In a statement, the City of Melbourne said it was “aware of ongoing graffiti issues at the Collins St site, and are currently reviewing available options for this area to prevent graffiti and expedite its removal”.
Last month Lord Mayor Sally Capp said, “Getting the basics right is critical to ensure our city is clean, safe and welcoming for residents, workers and visitors,” adding the council had “a strong stance against tagging and illegal graffiti”.
She said the council had invested more than $1.1 million into graffiti removal this year, including an additional $300,000 to remove graffiti at heights, and “more frequent proactive patrols in hotspot areas” •
Caption: Docklander Andrew Ward hits the streets to clean up more graffiti.