IT'S ugly and disrespectful. Port Macquarie residents have had enough of the graffiti gang culture that has left an unsightly smear across public facilities, parks and community infrastructure in the Hastings.
Street artists, residents, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and Graffiti Blasters Port Macquarie volunteers will be teaming up for Graffiti Removal Day between 9am to noon on October 27 at Macquarie Park.
Graffiti Removal Day co-ordinator and street artist Damon Moroney said preventing graffiti is the focus of this year's event.
"This year our focus is on not only removing ugly graffiti but also encouraging community groups to come up with creative and fun ideas to remove graffiti and stop it coming back," said Mr Moroney.
"There has been a big increase in tags over the last 12 months hopefully we can do this event every year and make this an annual event to clean them up.
"I just want to see all the tags gone. I can't stand all the scribble because it looks messy, it's disrespectful and half the time it's done on houses."
Mr Moroney has previously painted street art murals on tagged walls in Port Macquarie.
"There's about 15 consistent taggers that are here all the time and around Christmas you get another five or 10 of them over the break that think it's a cool thing to do," he said.
"I'll put a mural somewhere and there's not a tag there ever again. It's a respect thing and an unwritten law of graffiti that you don't go over other people's work.
"We're still in talks with the council about having a legal space to paint to stop all this stuff. A place they can go, practice, spend their time and take a bit of pride in art."
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has a Graffiti Blaster team of volunteers who have contributed more than 1,500 hours to remove over 4,000 tags this year.
"Council has a wonderful group of volunteers, the Graffiti Blaster team, who donate their time to remove graffiti tags across the local area. However, staying on top of graffiti removal is a challenge for all councils," said council's community engagement group manager Lucilla Marshall.
Council says more than 200 large tags have been removed from Ruins Way playground and Tuffins Lane Sporting Fields in recent months indicating a shift towards 'group/gang' graffiti culture.
The Graffiti Blaster program and the use of specialist graffiti removal contractors costs around $94,000 annually in Port Macquarie.
On average, 300 to 400 tags are removed every month across the Hastings. The number of tags increases to 500 and 600 in peak tourism season such as school holidays and the Christmas period.
Public buildings including Lake Cathie amenities and sporting field were targeted with graffiti and vandalism in September this year.
Across the state more than 3,000 volunteers and 80 councils will remove graffiti from 600 sites on October 27.
Graffiti Removal Day ambassador and football legend Mark Geyer said he encourages everyone to get involved in this community event.
"Graffiti Removal Day is great way people can show they love where they live and it is great to see so many of our youth involved," said Mr Geyer.
"This year's focus on encouraging people to come up with fun ideas to prevent vandalism at regularly targeted sites is a great opportunity for community groups to display their creative flair while removing ugly graffiti."
Graffiti Removal Day organisers are also running a competition to find the best mural in NSW with a $1,000 first prize.
To be a part of the Gaffiti Blasters program, contact council on 6581 8111.
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