Graffiti artist Vince Sharkey worked with disengaged Castlemaine Secondary College students to paint a wall at the college. He will run a similar program aimed at Romsey youth this year.

By Colin MacGillivray

AN innovative Romsey Neighbourhood House program will attempt to engage the town’s young people through the medium of graffiti art.

Romsey leaders and police organised a youth forum in the town last month after residents complained a group of 15 to 20 young people had been causing havoc with attempted break-ins, verbal abuse and dangerous behaviour on the roads.

Several community members highlighted a lack of activities available for young people in Romsey, with one teenager who attended the forum saying she felt ‘everything in Romsey [didn’t] appeal to [her] age group’.

In response, Romsey Neighbourhood House began to investigate activities that would engage young people, and Anglicare Victoria youth worker Philippa Brown said she came up with the idea of a graffiti art class.

“Michelle [Balthazar] from Romsey Neighbourhood House told me there was an ongoing issue with youth in Romsey and saying that they were bored and wanted things to do. Some of the behaviours aren’t great for the community, so we were thinking what we could come up with,” she said.

“Graffiti was one idea that I threw out there that I managed to find an instructor for, which was great.”

Young Melbourne graffiti artist Vincent Sharkey will run the class with help from fellow artists known as Fuzz and Rukkus.

“Vince and Fuzz did a similar project with Castlemaine Secondary College year nine students who weren’t very engaged,” Ms Brown said.

“They did a graffiti project where they did up one of the walls at the college.”

Ms Brown said artwork created by the young people as part of the course could be displayed in the town.

“We’ve got some signs donated by Macedon Ranges Signs in Woodend, so the kids can do them up,” she said.

“We’re hoping to be able to put them on display somewhere for all of Romsey to see, but that’s a conversation we’ll need to have with council.

“It means young people can take some pride in their community and what they’ve accomplished.”

Ms Brown said organisers were expecting interest in the course to be high.

“We’re hoping to get as many as 10. If it gets too big it won’t be as focused, but if it gets a lot of interest they can do more runs,” she said.

“This is really just a pilot program to see how it goes if there’s enough interest and whether or not it actually makes a difference.”

No prior experience or artistic skills are necessary to sign up for the course, and all children between the ages of 12 and 17 are encouraged to join.

The class is $10 per participant and all painting equipment will be supplied.

People can register their interest by visiting the Romsey Neighbourhood House Facebook page for an online booking link, or phone 5429 6724.