Oct 7, 2012 - News    6 Comments

Updating Freo’s Graffiti policy

I worked with public policy students from the University of Notre Dame this year to review and update the City of Fremantle’s outdated graffiti policy.

The new policy proposes that street art – graffiti that has some artistic and creative merit – will be left in place unless it is offensive or the property owner asks for it to be removed.

There is some wonderfully creative street art happening in Fremantle. Thoughtful and attractive street art adds to the local culture and experience of a place. It has even been suggested to have regenerative effects on a neighborhood.

What do you think?

The policy that will be debated on Wednesday 10 October is copied below.

The full council report – including the report and the findings from the Notre Dame study – can be found here under “Agenda Attachments”: http://www.fremantle.wa.gov.au/cityoffremantle/Agendas_and_minutes/Strategic_General_Services_Committee/2011/10_October_2012?agenda

Big thanks to Martin Drum and his students for their time and effort on this project.



To determine decision making regarding the management of graffiti and unauthorised street art across the City of Fremantle on both public and private property.


Graffitti is words or drawings on walls without permission. There are four main types of Graffitti:

  • Tags which are written or etched on any surface using pens, paint, spray cans and if the most common form of graffiti.
  • Pieces which are large or small mural style works that may incorporate a signature and may have artistic merit.
  • Slogans which are words about an issue, idea or thought, could be applied with paint or on stickers, paste ups or etched into the surface.
  • Stencils where a template has been used to create a design and spray painted onto a surface.

All unauthorised graffiti will be assessed by the City’s graffiti removal team and be removed within 24 – 48 hours of reporting. Priority is given to removing offensive or obscene graffiti. It is important that the City continue to be able to provide a swift response to all graffiti removal. All graffiti on heritage places will be removed under the guidance of heritage advice.

Graffiti that falls into the category of pieces, slogans or stencils and may have cultural or artistic merit is considered to be “unauthorised street art” and will be photographed and referred to the Director Community Development for a decision about its removal or retention. The Director will liaise with the City’s public art officer as required to make a determination, and instructions will be relayed to the graffiti removal team in relation to the retention or removal of the graffiti.

Unauthorised street art on private property that is deemed to have cultural or artistic merit will be left in place unless there is a request to have it removed made by the property owner A register of retained street art will be kept.

The City will continue to work with the state government and young people to develop graffiti reduction programs and the youth urban art program to promote responsible street art and reduce graffiti hotspots.



  • Din’t forget: old people can contribute too. Please consider ‘all ages’ things. I would like to be involved and I’m over 40.

    Great initiative!

    • If it gets past council this month it will be advertised for b :-road community feedback 🙂

  • Hi Rachel – I think this updated policy sounds really good. I love a lot of the street art that I see sometimes around Freo, it adds whimsy and character to the city streets, and I think it would be a cold and sterile attitude if it was automatically removed. This policy sounds like a thoughtful, creative and clear approach, which still allows for the art to be removed if the property owner wants it to be.

    My favourite pieces are the little black and white photocopied pictures that have been cut out and pasted onto random tucked away spots where a lot of people might not even notice them. There is a sweet one of a little grey rabbit, down low on a deep grey wall on a side street off South Terrace. I am always so happy when I walk past and glance down and see that he is still there!
    Thanks for letting us know about this policy, Emma.

    • I know the one! Yes – street art can really add to a sense of place and enhance your experience of that place. I’m glad you think we got the balance about right.

  • The removal of the art work raises interesting legal questions. The debate as to whether or not graffiti or street art can really be considered art is clearly subjective and open to interpretation but creating such pieces can be considered a criminal offence. So if an offence has been committed is there any legal redress when the art is destroyed or removed? Has a crime has been permitted in removing Slave Labour from the wall in the first place? And, perhaps more importantly, who retains ownership or the art or graffiti?

  • While practically all large cities in the world, and some of the larger regional towns, host some form of urban art or graffiti, there are a few locations that are considered to harbour forerunners of particular mediums or foster a pioneering street art culture in general. Such locations often attract internationally known artists who travel to these locations to exhibit their works. The following is a partial list of the most notable locations.