Call for increased membership as National SunSmart Program celebrates 20 years

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Call for increased membership as National SunSmart Program celebrates 20 years

Cancer Council Queensland is celebrating 20 years of the National SunSmart Program this year!

More than 325,000 Queensland kids will benefit from learning in a sun safe environment this year thanks to the free program, but the charity is determined to protect more children.

With the support of Queensland State Education Minister Grace Grace, Cancer Council Queensland is urging more primary schools, early childhood centres (ECC) and outside school hours care (OSHC) facilities to register to the program.

Since 1999 the National SunSmart Program has been awarding SunSmart status to Queensland schools and centres which have developed and implemented an up-to-date and comprehensive sun protection policy that meets SunSmart standards.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said the program had played a vital role in integrating sun safe practices into school and centre culture over the past two decades.

“In the 20 years of the National SunSmart Program, a large number of Queensland schools and centres have shifted from baseball caps to broad-brimmed or legionnaires hats and from crewneck short-sleeved shirts to alternatives with collars and longer sleeves,” Ms McMillan said.

“We have the unfortunate title of the skin cancer capital of the world here in Queensland and high sun exposure in the first ten years of life more than doubles melanoma risk.

“We’re calling on educators to revitalise their organisation’s SunSmart status to help us protect Queensland’s next generation.

“Currently only 39 per cent of Queensland primary schools and 44 per cent of ECC’s and OSHC’s have taken steps to maintain their SunSmart status – and we’d like to see that increase by the end of 2019 especially with summer on the horizon.

“Through the program we provide guidance and support to schools and centres to ensure they have a suitable sun protection policy, which includes recommendations on SunSmart hats and uniforms, sunscreen use, shade and sunglasses, when to schedule outdoor activities, and how to educate students on sun safety.”

Queensland State Education Minister Grace Grace said joining the National SunSmart Program is the first of many simple steps a school or centre can take to help protect children from harmful sun exposure and reduce skin cancer rates in Queensland.

“Queensland primary schools, early childhood centres and outside of school hours care facilities are organisations that play a significant role in shaping the health outcomes of future generations,” Minister Grace said.

“We know that proper sun protection during childhood and adolescence reduces lifetime risk of skin cancer – so we need to ensure Queensland kids are best protected every day.”

Middle Park State School Principal Anne Kitchin said they joined the program in 2016 to encourage their students to adopt lifelong healthy SunSmart habits.

“It’s imperative that we educate children from an early age about sun safety and that our students see our staff role modelling sun protective behaviours,” Ms Kitchin said.

There are around 900 Queensland primary schools and 1600 ECC’s and OSHC’s that are eligible for the National SunSmart Program, but are not currently members.

To find out if your school or centre is a member of the National SunSmart Program, or to sign up, visit

Queensland organisations that become a member of the National SunSmart Program before November 15 can enter a draw to win one of three prizes. The major prize is $10,000 for a permanent shade structure and the two minor prizes are SunSmart packs, which both include a portable shade structure, plus a number of pump sunscreen packs, sunscreen wall brackets and Cancer Council Queensland bucket hats.

What’s in a SunSmart status?

Queensland primary schools, ECC’s and OSHC’s with a nationally recognised SunSmart status demonstrate to the wider community that they are committed to skin cancer prevention and awareness. Those with SunSmart status must also have their policy reviewed by Cancer Council Queensland every three years, to ensure they have the most up to date and effective sun protection policy in place.

Plus, achieving SunSmart status will entitle your school or centre to:

A large ‘We are SunSmart’ metal sign to proudly display;

A member certificate;

Support with your policy development; and

Access to free resources.