I am urging Heathcote residents to throw their support behind Graffiti Removal Day on Sunday, 21 October to reclaim the region’s graffiti hotspots.

People are sick of vandals defacing public amenities and it’s time to send a clear message that Heathcote has zero tolerance for tagging.

This is a community where people love where they live, which is why I’m urging locals to roll-up their sleeves and volunteer for Graffiti Removal Day.

Cleaning up graffiti-damaged sites shows vandals we won’t stand for this kind of anti-social behaviour that leads to public spaces such as buildings, parks and train stations being turned into eyesores.

Since its inception in 2012, the number of Graffiti Removal Day volunteers across NSW has increased from 597 to over 1800 in 2017. In its first year, people removed graffiti from 100 sites with that number growing significantly to 428 last year.

Overall, roughly 120,000sqm of graffiti has been removed since it began, which equates to an $8.8 million value in savings for private owners and the government.

Every year the turnout gets bigger and bigger, which proves graffiti is a bugbear the community could do without.

While people think it’s only teens and young adults who commit these offences, we are seeing people as old as 40 getting caught tagging.

However tougher penalties for graffiti appear to be having an impact with 5,698 incidents of graffiti reported by NSW Police between July 2017 and June 2018 – down from 9,926 six years ago.

Penalties for graffiti vandalism include up to 12 months’ imprisonment and bans on the possession of spray cans by young people without a lawful excuse.

To volunteer for Graffiti Removal Day or nominate a clean-up site, go to: www.graffitiremovalday.org.au