Saturday, February 7, 2009

No-action Angela

The saga of trying to get graffiti removed from Drummoyne Public School continues.  On 13 January - over 2 weeks ago - I wrote to our local MP, Angela D'Amore.  So far, I've heard nothing in return, and the school is still covered in graffiti.

13 January 2009

Ms Angela D’Amore MP
Member for Drummoyne
128 Great North Road
Five Dock NSW 2046

Dear Ms D’Amore

Failure to remove graffiti from Drummoyne Public School

In August 2008, I noticed that graffiti had been sprayed in several locations on the boundary fences around Drummoyne Public School.  I emailed the school on 22 August and asked that it be removed (email attached).  I am aware of the process that public schools have to follow, having been introduced to it when I reported graffiti at Five Dock Public School on two occasions in May and July 2008.

In September 2008, as the graffiti was still there, I wrote to the Principal of Drummoyne Public (letter attached).  

As the graffiti had still not been removed in November, I rang the Department of Education and spoke to the Project Manager responsible for this sort of work – I dealt with him on both occasions when Five Dock was vandalised.  He said he’d look into it.

I went past Drummoyne Public again yesterday and not only was the graffiti still there, but a new security fence has been erected in front of some of the graffiti, making it impossible to remove (and the graffiti is still visible).

Photos and commentary can be viewed at:

When I wrote to the school in September, I also contacted the RTA and asked them to remove graffiti from all the road signs around the school.  That was taken care of within a week.

My personal view is that the failure to remove the graffiti from the school grounds before erecting a new security fence is a debacle of the first order, particularly after I had told the school and the Education Department about it on three separate occasions over a four month period.  

I note that on 26 June 2008, you made the following statement in Parliament:

Ms ANGELA D'AMORE: The member for Castle Hill referred to my comments on graffiti. Any commander you speak to will tell you that one of the crime prevention strategies with graffiti is to actually report it and remove it within 24 hours.

Back on 4 September 2003, there was a debate in parliament in regard to an amendment to the Local Government Act 1993, the aim being:

“to enable a local council to recover from a public authority expenses incurred by the council for the removal of graffiti from property owned or occupied by a public authority; and to order the removal of graffiti from property owned or occupied by a public authority. The provisions of the bill will apply where graffiti is visible from a public place, the public authority does not agree to have the graffiti removed, and the graffiti removal work cannot be carried out from a public place. In addition, failure to comply with an order will be an offence.”

You voted against that amendment.

Over the past year, I have witnessed first hand the speed and effectiveness of the Canada Bay anti-graffiti team in removing graffiti from private and public property.  Where they are able to, they often have it removed within 24 hours of a report being made.

I want you to answer two questions for me.

Question 1.

Given your public statement in Parliament on 26 June 2008 that the best way to deter graffiti is to remove it within 24 hours, what are you going to do to ensure that the Department of Education complies with this idea in future?  

Please don’t bother to try and explain the debacle of why graffiti was not removed from school property before a fence was built in front of it, even though it was reported three times prior to construction starting.  

Question 2.

Comment - graffiti removal is clearly not a core business of the Department of Education.  It is not a priority either.  If it was, the staff of the Department (teachers and principals) would be reporting graffiti instead of members of the public!  They work at these schools – how can they go past this graffiti every day and take no notice of it? (This is a rhetorical question – please don’t try to answer it.)

Graffiti removal is an activity that many Councils take seriously, particularly Canada Bay.  That being the case, and given the woeful response of the Department of Education on many occasions to remove graffiti from its premises, if an amendment to the Local Government Act 1993 was raised again (along the lines of the amendment that was debated on 4 September 2003), would you support it this time?  

Yours sincerely

As I said, there has been no response so far - not even an acknowledgement letter, which normally gets sent out a day or so within receipt of the letter.  Even if she doesn't want to respond, the least she could do is have one of her staff chase up the Education Department and have the graffiti removed.  Then again, last time I tried to contact her office, that turned into a debacle of the first order as well.  You have to wonder sometimes what some politicians do with their postage allowances.

Next stop - the Minister for Education.  

7 February 2009

The Hon. Verity Firth MP
Minister for Education and Training
Level 31
Governor Macquarie Tower
1 Farrer Place

Dear Ms Firth

Failure to remove graffiti from Drummoyne Public School

Please see the attached letter to your colleague, and my local MP, Angela D’Amore.  Ms D’Amore seems to have dropped off the radar, so can you please ensure that the graffiti on the walls surrounding Drummoyne Public School is removed.

You might also want to look into simplifying the graffiti reporting and removal process – the current process is so convoluted and time consuming, it’s no wonder Principals fail to follow it on occasions.

Yours sincerely

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