Footscray University Town (FUT) is founded on six key strengths, with associated projects that will strive to deliver benefits for University staff and students, and for the communities of Footscray and Melbourne's west.

They are:

  • Smart Footscray
  • Creative Footscray
  • Healthy and Active Footscray
  • Sustainable Footscray
  • Great Places and Connections
  • Collaborative and Engaged.

We have already started many of the projects, which are outlined below.

Smart City

Maribyrnong City Council in partnership with Victoria University rolled out new smart technologies as part of the Footscray Smart City for Social Cohesion project throughout 2019 and 2020. 

Footscray has been placed in a league with other smart cities around the world thanks to a $400,000 Australian Government Smart Cities and Suburbs Program grant and boosted funding from Council and VU.

The project resulted in the installation of:

  • air quality monitoring sensors
  • energy efficient smart lighting
  • expanded free public WiFi
  • pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle counting technology
  • interactive signage
  • Footscray Park app
  • integrated Smart City data platform developed by VU's College of Engineering and Science
  • LoRaWAN network.

Picturing Footscray Photography Prize

Picturing Footscray was first established in 2016 as part of the BluScray project. It was so popular that we brought it back as an annual, open-entry photography prize that focuses on Footscray as the subject.

All entrants are exhibited in a major exhibition held at VU at MetroWest, providing an opportunity to have work displayed in a professional context. An experienced photographer selects a first, second, third and student prize winner, and a People’s Choice award is presented at the end of the exhibition.

A new format was held in 2020 due to COVID-19. Visit the project webpage to find out more. 

Picturing Footscray exhibition opening in 2019 | Photographer: Brent Edwards

One Night in Footscray

One Night in Footscray highlights the work of local artists, makers, emerging practitioners and students. The annual event creates new opportunities to encounter art in public spaces, and new ways for people to experience and interpret Footscray, its people and places.

An estimated 5000 people attended the inaugural event in 2017, which had galleries and studios open until late, shopfronts activated with performances and bars transformed by art installations. More than 30 artists were involved across 17 locations, commissioned through an expression-of-interest process which contributed to an incredibly diverse program of events.

One Night in Footscray will next take place in 2021 - it was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic.

For more information, visit the One Night in Footscray website.

One Night in Footscray 2019 | Photographer: Shuttermain

Footscray Art Prize

The Footscray Art Prize is a biennial non-acquisitive visual art prize for contemporary artworks across multiple platforms and disciplines, open to local and national artists.

It was established in 2016 to coincide with the University's Centenary celebrations, in collaboration with:

The Art Prize has a $10,000 major prize, with special categories for street art, local and emerging artists, and school students. Shortlisted artworks are display in exhibitions at Footscray Community Arts and VU at MetroWest.

The development of the Prize highlights a unique community collaboration that celebrates creative arts in Footscray. Local businesses can participate through sponsorship of prizes and exhibitions.

Entries for the 2021 Footscray Art Prize are now open.

For more information, visit the Footscray Art Prize website.

A family viewing Julia deVille's work in the 2019 Footscray Art Prize exhibition at the Footscray Community Arts | Photographer: Shuttermain

West Projections Festival

Victoria University proudly partnered with Wynter Projects to co-produce West Projections Festival from 2016 to 2019, with the support of Maribyrnong City Council.

The annual after-dark festival sees the entire suburb of Footscray bathed in light, as more than 20 unique spaces play host to specially commissioned projection and performance works. A series of guided walks is also included in the Festival, where the audience has the opportunity to hear directly from the artists.

For more information, visit the West Projections website.

Producer, Chantal Wynter, presenting at the 2018 launch of West Projections | Photographer: Shuttermain

Game Changers Conversation Series

The Game Changers Conversation Series presents pivotal concepts, personalities and moments in Australia’s evolving story for public discussion and debate.

Ideas that shape our world and the people behind them.

Over several years, beginning in 2015, the series comprised monthly events jointly presented at VU at MetroWest by Footscray University Town partners, Maribyrnong City Council and Victoria University. 

Revisit some of the Conversations below, or check our news and events page for upcoming discussions and knowledge-exchange opportunities.

Knowing Our Languages conversation held in November 2019  | Photographer: Shuttermain

Learning on the Edge

Over two days in 2018, Victoria University, Maribyrnong City Council and community partners presented a series of mind-expanding interactive events in Footscray that put a twist on everyday learning and encouraged participants to get out of their comfort zones. 

Learning on the Edge featured:

  • Sami Shah Gets Schooled: a debate between comedian and ABC Broadcaster, Sami Shah, and local secondary school students
  • The Science of Living Well in Footscray: VU academics and Triple R's Dr Shane Huntington discussed local problems brought about by the rapid change Footscray is experiencing
  • Skills Street: VU’s Nicholson Street Campus came alive with 60 minute learning opportunities across the areas of trades, sport and fitness, health and robotics
  • Local Conversations: an intimate conversation with a local identity
  • Food for Thought: customs and popular greetings behind Footscray's famous food traditions were explored through a two-course meal
  • In the Dark: a unique experience where people met in the dark for a guided chat.

Little Saigon precinct upgrade

Little Saigon, the name given to the area bound by Hopkins, Moore and Donald Streets in central Footscray, has undergone revitalisation through the Little Saigon Precinct Activation Plan. Improvements have included:

  • a new plaza/small park on the corner of Leeds and Byron Street
  • a new building with ground floor shops and four levels of car parking above
  • streetscape upgrades making the streets more pedestrian-friendly
  • 100 new on-road car spaces
  • new street trees.

A key element of the Little Saigon revitalisation is a Welcome Arch at the entrance of the precinct near the corner of Leeds and Hopkins Streets, which was completed in September 2016. The arch was funded by State Government, Council and community sources. The Welcome Arch was prepared with input from key community stakeholders and public consultation. 

In December 2016 Maribyrnong City Council and Victoria University was saddened to hear that the Little Saigon market was destroyed by a fire. We will continue to work with the local community and traders to ensure that the redevelopment of Little Saigon and the market has a positive outcome for everyone involved.

Concept image of the Little Saigon Precinct. This project is now complete. 

Free public WiFi in central Footscray

Access to free WiFi is now available throughout key areas in Footscray’s city centre, further developing its attractiveness as a place to work, study and visit.

Funded by Maribyrnong City Council as part of FUT, the project was launched on Tuesday 12 July 2016, making free WiFi available along Nicholson Street, including the mall, between Hopkins and Irving Streets.

Victoria University students and staff can now connect to free WiFi as they travel between Footscray’s campuses – Footscray Nicholson, VU at MetroWest and Footscray Park – providing easy access to information online. The service is also available to local community, business customers and visitors to the area.

Former Mayor of Maribyrnong City Council 'turning on' the free WiFi service in Nicholson Mall in 2016.


Victoria University (VU) and blue have gone together for a long time. Blue is central to VU’s identity – both now and for our predecessors – and symbolises hope, aspiration and the future. BluScray celebrated this connection and Footscray’s thriving creative industries during VU’s Centenary year in 2016. Through blue-themed community events, lighting installations and public artwork, BluScray transformed central Footscray. 

BluScray was presented by Victoria University's Footscray University Town initiative in collaboration with:

Find out more about the projects and events that formed BluScray:

Renowned textile artist, Jessie Deane, led a number of community crafters to create a needlepoint artwork reflecting the blue threads that weave through the diverse landscapes of Footscray. The completed work was displayed at VU at MetroWest in December 2016, and at Highpoint Shopping Centre in January 2017 as a legacy of Victoria University’s Centenary celebration.

Life-size images of people squeezed into boxes were pasted onto blue facades throughout Footscray for Corps in Situ in Footscray, an Australian premiere paste-up project by French artist Aline Brugel. Over two months, this immersive experience took the passer-by on a unique journey of the streets and people of Footscray.

A series of video projections and sound pieces, presented by West Projections in collaboration with Victoria University and key partners. States of Blue illuminated over 20 unique sites in August and September 2016, including creative spaces, VU campuses, businesses and public places, each showing specially commissioned artwork.

An open-entry photography competition based on the theme ‘blue in Footscray’ where all of the entries were showcased in an exhibition at VU at MetroWest in July 2016.

Attracting over 300 entries, Picturing BluScray was a major success. As a result, Picturing Footscray was established as a separate project that celebrates Footscray through a salon-style photography competition and exhibition each year.

Community-based installations, resident and business engagements, and commissioned artwork transformed everyday objects such as shopfronts, fences, trees and windows, taking on shades of blue. A key focus was street lighting along the Nicholson Street spine between VU’s two Footscray campuses. This included the project 'Eclectic Blu', where five electrical boxes owned by Jemena were painted by renowned street artist Cezary Stulgis with a blue theme. The electrical boxes had previously been graffiti attractors.

Messages and stories of learning in Footscray were collected by local community artist Debbie Harman and inscribed onto the insides of 100 blue ceramic cups. The cups were placed throughout Footscray during BluScray events, waiting to be found and taken home.

Thanks to the following organisations for supporting the BluScray program:

Maribyrnong Boulevard & Mills Close staircase

Maribyrnong City Council is working on a number of major upgrades within Footscray Park to improve connections with the Maribyrnong River, Victoria University (Footscray Park Campus) and Ballarat Road.

A new staircase has been installed at Mills Close, improving access and providing a direct connection from Ballarat Road to the Maribyrnong River for community members, VU staff and students. The staircase includes balustrades, lighting and artwork referencing Footscray Park's history.

Along the river, Maribyrnong Boulevard has been upgraded to provide increased car parking and grassed areas, and improved shared pathways. A new playground has also been completed in Footscray Park.

Staircase from Mills Close to Maribyrnong River, at the side of Footscray Park Campus.

Graduate to Employment Strategy

VU is synonymous with applied learning – in its history and current blend of TAFE and higher education courses. This strategy provides an opportunity to strengthen 'real world' learning outcomes through collaboration with industry, the community sector and FUT partners that create pathways for students to employment.

This strategy has already involved the recruitment of FUT Student Ambassadors – current and past VU students who are employed on a casual basis to assist with events. Maribyrnong City Council and other community organisations actively take on VU student interns, often leading to ongoing employment.

We will continue to initiate partnerships and develop opportunities for VU students, contributing skills and knowledge towards Footscray’s thriving workforce.

A student meets with an advisor. 

Student accommodation

A 500-bed student accommodation complex, UniLodge Victoria University, opened in Tiernan Street Footscray in 2016 as part of the FUT initiative.

The new accommodation is across the road from VU's Footscray Park Campus and a short walk to Footscray Nicholson Campus, public transport and Footscray's shopping precinct. It features an onsite café, communal areas and expansive views of Melbourne.

One of the common areas at UniLodge Victoria University.