MELBOURNE NEWS

Shaping our city

Rapid response team makes a clean sweep

30 May 2024

Scouring the city’s streets and laneways looking for unsightly graffiti and rubbish is all in a day’s work for the Rapid Response Clean Team. Meet the team who are on the ground 24 hours a day, seven days a week keeping the city sparkling.

To ensure the city is always looking its best for residents, workers and visitors, the City of Melbourne is super-charging cleaning efforts, cutting response times for offensive graffiti removal and monitoring graffiti hotspots daily. 
 
It’s all part of our new five-year Clean City Services contract which will see priority removal of offensive graffiti, cutting down current response times from two hours to one hour.

Targeted hotspot pressure washing will be increased in our busiest laneways – jumping from five days a week to daily, while we also ramp up our electric vehicle fleet service, tripling the current cleaning service to six vehicles so crews can get to reported areas immediately.   
 
The five-year contract is shared between integrated services provider Spotless, responsible for street cleaning, and pressure cleaning specialist Calcorp, tasked with graffiti management.

A person in high-vi sweeping a street
Our Clean Teams work around the clock sweeping and collecting rubbish

Meet Ben and Tim 

Melbourne’s city streets and laneways have been Ben Ivory’s office for the past 23 years. 

Safe to say, he knows every inch of the city.  

Ben uses his city savvy to lead the 50-strong team at Calcorp who patrol the City of Melbourne and respond to cleaning and graffiti removal requests – in real time.  

In the past year, the team has removed more than 112,000m2 of graffiti – that’s the equivalent of five MCGs.   

The team’s efforts are ramping up even further under the new cleaning contract staff servicing three shifts – with day, afternoon and night teams scrubbing the city clean.  

The around-the-clock set-up allows for easier access and efficiency for Ben and his team. 

“It’s a full cycle which means full efficiency,” Ben said. 

“It’s made a major impact with easier access to the city as it’s significantly less busy, it just makes looking after the city much more manageable.”  

A person wearing high-vis with a paint roller in hand in a laneway
The removal of offensive graffiti will be carried out within an hour

Tim, a member of the day team, agrees. The 24-hour rollout means they can get to jobs they were unable to do during the day – less foot and road traffic in the later hours allows for the team to spray over roller doors for example.  

“Laneways are definitely cleaner – even the roads. You can’t ‘smell the ambiance’ of the city as much with the constant cleaning,” Tim said.  

In Ben’s two decades on the job, he has never seen some streets looking so well-kept – especially the hotspot laneways that are now pressure washed daily, increased from the previous five days a week.  

“The City of Melbourne’s selected lanes have seen major improvement. Flinders Court has never looked so good – that’s an immediate result,” he said.  

A person in high-vis in front of a graffiti-covered laneway
Manu, another member of the Clean Team, works to protect street art in our laneways

Street art supporters  

Graffiti removal reduces the visual noise that distracts from Melbourne’s laneway street art, an iconic element of the city that the clean team are proudly involved in.  

As part of our street art program, Flash Forward, the Clean Team preps and primes the walls that act as street artists’ canvasses and seal their artwork once it’s complete. 

For Ben, this is a significant part of the Clean Team’s role in the city that people may not know about.  

“We’re upholding Melbourne’s reputation as a street art destination,” he said.  

This aspect of the job requires consultation with artists so their vision is properly executed. Tim said developing relationships with street artists in this way is a fulfilling part of the job  

“It’s given me a new-found appreciation for the work they do, they really put part of themselves on the wall,” Tim said.  

Prepping and sealing artworks is no small feat – especially jobs that require scaffolding to scale 18-storey buildings. 

Two rapid response clean team vans
Report any offensive graffiti or tagging via our hotline or make a report online

Reporting graffiti and street cleaning issues 

While our Clean Team works nonstop to keep our city looking its best, Melburnians can also do their part by reporting issues of graffiti and street cleaning.  
 
Ben and Tim shared some tips to help them get on the case quickly. 

“Importantly, be as descriptive as you can regarding location. If you say there is graffiti on a bin in Royal Park – there are a few bins. So, it’s not efficient. Try to include a nearby landmark,” Ben said.  

 “Super zoomed-in photos without any context make it difficult to know where it is. We’re pretty good, we know the city, but send in two pictures with one zoomed-out so we can see exactly where it is,” Tim said.   

And try to send in your request as soon as you can.  

“The geolocation is attached to wherever the request is sent, so waiting until you get back to the office means the location won’t be accurate,” Tim said

Visit the City of Melbourne website to report any city cleaning or graffiti issues online or call our hotline on 9658 9658. 

If the graffiti is obscene or offensive, removal will be fast-tracked. 

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