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SunSmart criteria for OSHC and vacation care

A SunSmart OSHC and vacation care service minimises exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation to protect staff and children from skin cancer. To achieve and maintain SunSmart recognition there are policy and practice requirements services must meet. You can review whether your service implements and documents policy and practice requirements before you submit a SunSmart application or alternatively, use the online application form to provide you feedback. Below you will find a link to our policy resources, which outlines this criterion.

If you need assistance with implementing the SunSmart criteria, you can review the below FAQs or contact the SunSmart team on 08 8291 4316 or email sunsmart@cancersa.org.au.

FAQs: Sun protection policy and practice

General policy questions

All OSHC and vacation care services must have a sun protection policy to comply with the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011, Regulation 168.

OSHC and vacation care services located at Department for Education must have a sun protection policy in place to meet department requirements. A sun protection policy supports services to meet their duty of care and work health and safety obligations outlined in the department’s Safety Management Procedure.

  • OSHC services must have a sun protection policy in place for after school care in terms 1 and 4, and whenever the UV radiation level is 3 and above at other times.
  • Vacation care services must have a sun protection policy in place from 1 August to 30 April and whenever the UV radiation level is 3 and above at other times.

The policy should outline how the service will comprehensively address the risk of over-exposure to UV radiation. Review the department’s Intranet page on sun exposure for further details on policy and practice requirements.

To achieve or maintain SunSmart recognition with Cancer Council, your service is required to have sun protection policy that meets the Program’s policy and practice criterion.

Site leaders, together with their governing councils or parent committees, may need to update their policy or create a new one if their current sun protection policy:

  • has not been updated within the last 3 years.
  • does not operate after school care in terms 1 and 4 when the UV radiation level is 3 and above at other times.
  • does not operate during vacation care services from 1 August to 30 April when the UV radiation level is 3 and above at other times only documents how the service will address hot or wet weather.
  • allows caps to be worn.
    does not document how the service will address each of the following:

a.    sun protective hats and clothing
b.    shade
c.     sunscreen
d.    curriculum
e.    planning for outdoor camps, excursions and water-based activities
f.      scheduling activities to minimise exposure during peak UV radiation times
g.    role modelling and sun protection for work health and safety
h.    sharing the policy with families and staff.

When establishing a local sun protection policy please refer to Cancer Council SA’s sun protection policy resources and supporting information which will help you meet the Department for Education requirements as well as eligibility for SunSmart recognition. Review the department’s Intranet page on sun exposure for further details on policy and practice requirements.

OSHC and vacation care services can have a combined sun protection policy with their associated school. Cancer Council SA has a combined sample policy, which outlines recommended policy implementation times and sun protection practices for both the OSHC and vacation care service and the school. When developing or reviewing a combined policy please refer to Cancer Council SA’s sun protection policy resources for guidance.

Term 3 usually falls during August and September when daily sun protection times are short and only fall during school hours. This means during term 3 the UV Index usually falls below 3 by the time children attend after school care.

In South Australia, between September and October the UV Index rises rapidly and sun protection times start to extend. At the end of September sun protection is usually recommended up until 3.00pm. Daylight savings commences on 1 October and daily sun protection times shift forward one hour, meaning sun protection is usually recommended until 4.00pm.

Policy implementation times for OSHC and vacation care are:

After school care: sun protection is required during terms 1 and 4 and whenever the UV is 3 and above at other times. Staff are encouraged to access the daily local sun protection times to determine if sun protection measures are required during terms 2 and 3.

Vacation care: sun protection is required for all outdoor activities from 1 August to 30 April and whenever the UV is 3 and above at other times.

Daily local sun protection times are the time of day when the UV Index is forecast to reach 3 and above. These times can be source from the SunSmart Global UV app, SunSmart widget, myuv.com.au or the Bureau of Meteorology website or app.

Implementing sun protection for all outdoor activities during policy implementation times reduces the need to monitor UV levels.

Policy implementation times for OSHC and vacation care are:

After school care: sun protection is required during terms 1 and 4 and whenever the UV is 3 and above at other times. Staff are encouraged to access the daily local sun protection times to determine if sun protection measures are required during terms 2 and 3.

Vacation care: sun protection is required for all outdoor activities from 1 August to 30 April and whenever the UV is 3 and above at other times.

Daily local sun protection times are the time of day when the UV Index is forecast to reach 3 and above. These times can be source from the SunSmart Global UV app, SunSmart widget, myuv.com.au or the Bureau of Meteorology website or app.

If your service chooses to monitor daily local sun protection times all year round, have a clear process in place that staff follow. For example, each morning a staff member checks the daily sun protection times for your location, using the SunSmart Global UV app and records these times on a UV chart for all staff and children to refer to. These times are clearly outlined for example, ‘9:00am to 5:00pm sun protection recommended’.

Discourage staff from using the live UV Index on the app, which some services report checking multiple times. The live UV Index reading isn’t reliable to determine whether sun protection is needed as this is impacted by cloud cover and changes every 5-10 minutes. Cloud cover will not block or eliminate UV completely. UV can pass through cloud cover.

Peak UV times of the day are when the UV is highest during the daytime and differ from the local sun protection times issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, which change daily.

During policy implementation times, aim to schedule outdoor activities outside peak UV times of the day, where possible. Alternatively, consider holding activities in well shaded areas. Sun protection may still be required outside of these hours.

Peak UV times are:

  • 11.00 am – 3.00 pm during daylight savings.
  • 10.00 am – 2.00 pm during non-daylight savings.

Site leaders can utilise Cancer Council SA’s sun protection policy resources and supporting information when establishing a local sun protection policy. Alternatively, email a draft sun protection policy for review to sunsmart@cancersa.org.au or phone the SunSmart team on 08 8291 4316 for support.

The policy will need to apply to all persons entering the workplace or involved in an activity (onsite and offsite) including but not limited to all staff, visitors, volunteers, children, families, contractors, and others.

Families, governing councils, and staff are encouraged to work closely together to ensure their local sun protection policy is implemented and supported.

According to the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2012, employees and employers, along with visitors, volunteers and contractors, are required to have a shared responsibility regarding sun protection. All adults also have a responsibility to role model sun protection behaviours to children in their surroundings.

Staff who work outside for all or part of their day (including yard duty) can receive up to ten times more UV than someone who works solely indoors, which can drastically increase their risk of skin cancer. As part of WHS, staff are required to take measures to protect their skin when the UV is 3 and above. These include:

  • clothing that covers as much of the skin as possible, such as tops with collars and longer style sleeves, and longer style shorts, dresses and skirts.
  • a broad brimmed, bucket or legionnaire hat (caps are not a suitable alternative).
  • applying SPF 50+, broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen twenty minutes before going outdoors and reapplying every two hours.
  • using shade when outdoors or organising activities under the shade where possible.
  • wearing close-fitting, wrap-around sunglasses that meet AS/NZS 1067:2016 (Sunglasses: lens category 2, 3 or 4).

For more information on your responsibilities as an employee or employer visit the South Australian Legislation website and access the Work Health and Safety Act 2012.

The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is both the major cause of skin cancer and the best natural source of vitamin D. Therefore, it is important to find a balance between the risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure with maintaining vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and muscles, and for general health. The best source of vitamin D for your body is from exposure to the UV radiation from sunlight. Sensible sun protection does not put people at risk of vitamin D deficiency but there are times when it is important to be in the sun without protection.

When the UV Index is 3 or above most people maintain adequate vitamin D levels just by spending a few minutes outdoors on most days of the week even when wearing sun protection. Prolonged sun exposure does not cause your vitamin D levels to increase further but does increase your risk of skin cancer.

When the UV Index falls below 3, Cancer Council recommends spending time outdoors in the middle of the day with skin uncovered to support vitamin D production. Being physically active also helps boost vitamin D levels.

Although most people get enough sunlight to make adequate vitamin D during their day-to-day outdoor activities there are some groups who may not make enough for a variety of reasons.

These include:

  • People with naturally very dark skin.
  • People with little or no sun exposure.
  • Breast-fed babies from vitamin D deficient mothers.
  • People with specific health conditions or who are taking medications affecting vitamin D metabolism.

People who belong to one of these groups at risk of vitamin D deficiency or if families are concerned about their child’s vitamin D levels, encourage them to consult their GP.

Vitamin D levels can be checked with a blood test, and a GP can advise on options, such as supplementation, depending on your individual circumstances.

Sometimes children and families can be resistant to procedures for a variety of reasons. It might be worth finding out why they are resisting as there could be a simple reason or miscommunication behind it.

Regularly promoting sun protection through communication apps, daily discussions, displays, role modelling, particularly at the start of each school holidays, will bring expectations front of mind. Cancer Council has a range of activity ideas, information and promotional resources that services can download or order.

The SunSmart team at Cancer Council SA can visit and speak with staff, governing council members and parents/caregivers about the importance of sun protection. Staff and families are encouraged to contact the SunSmart team on 08 8291 4316 or email sunsmart@cancersa.org.au if they have questions regarding sun protection.

Sometimes staff, governing council members and/or volunteers can be resistant to procedures for a variety of reasons. It might be worth finding out why they are resisting as there could be a simple reason or miscommunication behind it.

Regularly promoting sun protection through staff meetings, staff handbooks and displays, particularly at the start of each school holidays, will bring sun protection front of mind. Cancer Council has a range of free information and promotional resources that services can download or order.

Encouraging staff to access up to date information on sun protection and training opportunities can assist with knowledge gaps. The Department for Education has online training accessible via Plink and for non-government services the online Generation SunSmart professional learning training freely accessible. The SunSmart team at Cancer Council SA can visit and conduct free professional learning sessions regarding sun protection.

Services can contact the SunSmart team on 08 8291 4316 or email sunsmart@cancersa.org.au if they have questions regarding sun protection.

Yes. The SunSmart team at Cancer Council SA can provide free information sessions for staff, parents, parent committees and governing councils to help them to understand the importance of sun protection and how to address it at their service.

To book a free information session for your staff and parents, contact the SunSmart team on 088291 4316 or email sunsmart@cancersa.org.au.

Cancer Council has a range of resources that are free to download or order from our website, including educational activities.

Sun protective clothing

It is important to encourage families to send their children dressed appropriately to protect their skin. Enrolment is a good time to set dress code expectations. This includes encouraging sun protective hats (broad-brimmed, bucket or legionnaire style), tops with collars or higher necklines and at least elbow length sleeves and longer style shorts, dresses and skirts. It also includes discouraging baseball caps, sleeveless, shoestring strap or midriff tops along with shorts, dresses and skirts that don’t adequately protect the legs. Dress code reminders can be provided at the start of each school holidays.

Children dressed inappropriately can be asked to play in the shade or indoors. Some services may choose to have spare clothing available in case children come dressed inappropriately for the UV and others may choose to request parents send back-up clothing. Alternatively, staff may like to speak with families in more detail about the dress code requirements, for example for excursions.

Sunscreen

Some services may choose to provide sunscreen for staff and children however there are other options if this is not practical. Families can be asked to provide a named SPF 50 or 50+, broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen for their child which is kept in a bag or locker.

Your service can develop a sunscreen application and reapplication routine where sunscreen is applied at the same time daily during policy implementation times. Alternatively, have a process in place to monitor daily local sun protection times for example via the SunSmart Global UV app, to guide sunscreen application and reapplication times each day, which can be part of children’s learning about how to protect their skin.

The following information provides guidance to help develop a sunscreen application routine that maintains sun protection.

After school care:

First application

  • Before going outdoors, remind children to apply or provide time for application – when possible, 20 minutes before going outdoors to allow sunscreen to reach its SPF rating.

Sunscreen won’t need to be reapplied, as it is effect for 2 hours and after this point in time the UV level usually falls below 3.

Vacation care:

Aim for sunscreen application at least twice throughout the day.

First application

  • Children can be encouraged to apply sunscreen before or upon arrival, which allows 20 minutes for sunscreen absorption.

or

  • Before going outdoors, remind children to apply or provide time for application – when possible, 20 minutes before going outdoors to allow sunscreen to reach its SPF rating.

Second and further applications

  • If returning or remaining outdoors it is recommended to reapply every 2 hours, or reapply immediately after sweating, water-based activities, towel drying or being washed off, even if the product label indicates 4 hours water resistance.
  • Sunscreen reapplication routines can be determined based on your day’s schedule. This could mean sunscreen is applied before snack and lunch times.

Sunscreen contains water and oil-based ingredients. After it is applied and rubbed in, its maximum protective effect is reached when the water has evaporated and the film of sunscreen active in the oil base remains on the skin which takes up to 20 minutes.

This is also the process that is followed when testing sunscreen for its SPF levels. It’s important to apply sunscreen the same way to get the right level of SPF protection.

  1. Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outdoors.
  2. Reapply every 2 hours or after being washed off, water-based activities, sweating or towel drying.

Allowing 20 minutes for sunscreen absorption is most important for the first application of the day, so when sunscreen is reapplied later in the day outdoor play can be continued immediately.

Sunscreen labels in Australia are currently regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, who determine claims that can be made about water resistance. It’s important to remember that the 4 hour water resistance test is conducted in labatorary conditions, and doesn’t reflect real-life situations where sand, physical activity, sweat, water and towel drying can cause sunscreen to rub off. In addition, sunscreen often isn’t applied thoroughly – that’s why its recommended sunscreen is reapplied every 2 hours or after being washed off, water-based activities, sweating or towel drying to ensure effective protection. Sunscreen reapplication every 2 hours is clearly stated on most Australian sunscreen packaging.

Below are some examples, to help improve sunscreen application. It may also be useful to have a discussion amongst staff to share ideas.

  • Use sunscreen buddies or sunscreen monitors for peer-to-peer reminders.
  • Make sunscreen application fun with music, or educational e.g. recite times tables or spelling revision.
  • Engage children to identify a desirable sunscreen such as a dry touch, moisturising, or sport sunscreen.
  • A mirror and tissues can be helpful for younger students to assist with application.
  • Role model and demonstrate correct sunscreen application to encourage children to cover all exposed skin.
  • Seek support from families by encouraging them to discuss sunscreen application with their child.

If your service provides sunscreen and some children are sensitive to it, it is recommended that the family provides a suitable SPF 50 or 50+, broad-spectrum, water-resistant alternative that is named and kept onsite. When using a sunscreen for the first time, encourage families to test on a small section of skin first. If Irritation occurs, discontinue use. For more information to support families to choose a suitable sunscreen, refer to our Sunscreen Fact Sheet.

Children who are unable to use sunscreen for medical or sensory reasons may need to have a doctor’s certificate and will need to be kept covered by hats and clothing and under the shade when sun protection is recommended. Families may like to consider long sleeved shirts options or kids arm sleeves.

If a parent or guardian is requesting sunscreen isn’t worn for other reasons, a staff member may like to discuss these concerns with them by referring to our Sunscreen Fact Sheet for guidance. A staff member may need to request the parent or guardian discuss their concerns with a GP and seek advice on how best to protect their child’s skin. GP involvement may influence the parent or guardian decision. If the parent or guardian continues to withhold consent, services may like to request a GP letter outlining their advice and ask the parent or guardian to sign a waiver outlining they understand the risks involved for their child.

Centres can contact the SunSmart team on 08 8291 4316 or email sunsmart@cancersa.org.au if they would like guidance on communicating with families regarding sunscreen.

When age appropriate (around three years) Cancer Council recommends supporting children to apply their own sunscreen under supervision. Some children may need assistance so it may be necessary to seek permission directly from the child’s family or carers in order to provide assistance.

Hats

Caps do not provide adequate protection to the face, neck and ears and are not recommended. Cancer Council recommends making a broad-brimmed, bucket or legionnaire hat available on the uniform list and phasing out the use of baseball caps. Baseball caps should be removed as a hat alternative. OSHC and vacation care services on Department for Education sites are requested to phase out base caps.

While planning this transition, considering your service’s challenges and strengths can help prepare for success. Gain support and momentum through education and communication with children and families. Consider these principles, when making the transition:

  1. Establish simple rules.
  2. Clearly communicate the rules.
  3. Consistently apply the rules.
  4. Monitor hat wearing to stay on track.

Cancer Council has a range of free information and promotional resources that can support phasing out baseball caps and can be downloaded or ordered. Schools can contact the SunSmart team on 08 8291 4316 or email sunsmart@cancersa.org.au for guidance.

While providing spare hats for outdoor activities is good practice, an alternative measure should also be in place for instances where spare hats are unavailable (e.g., supplies are exhausted, correct size is not available, etc.) OSHC and vacation care services on Department for Education are mandated to have a ‘no hat, play in the shade’ approach, which can be alongside providing spare hats.

Staff and children may need to purchase a bigger broad-brimmed, bucket or legionnaire hat to fit over the headdress.  As hijabs are already very covering, it may be useful to recommend a visor that they can wear over the top of the hijab which shades their face. Sunscreen can be applied to any exposed skin on the face, neck, and ears. They may like to use a non-greasy sunscreen to prevent damage to headwear fabric.

Shade

Using shade as much as possible when you are outdoors is an important strategy in protecting your skin. Shade from trees and man-made structures (e.g. pergolas, buildings) offer some protection from UV radiation but do not totally block it out. UV radiation can still be reflected off the ground and buildings around you, even under dense shade.

Always use shade as well as sun protective clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen for maximum protection from UV radiation.

Using shade as much as possible when you are outdoors is an important strategy in protecting your skin. Cancer Council recognises that shade can be a significant financial investment and it may take time to secure funding to increase shade. Funding shade should remain a priority.

If your service does not currently have adequate shade, there are a few options you can consider to reduce over-exposure to UV radiation such as:

  • rescheduling outdoor activities outside of the peak UV times of the day (10 am to 2 pm or 11 am to 3 pm daylight savings time) when the UV radiation levels will be at their highest during vacation care.
  • utilising existing shade or temporary shade as much as possible by setting up activities under shade, placing seating under shaded areas for break times, moving play equipment under the shade or redirecting play to shaded areas.
  • conducting activities across the middle of the day in a gymnasium or multi-purpose room where possible.
  • hold lunch indoors so children are outside for less time when the UV radiation levels will be at their highest.

Conducting a regular shade audit can assist services to determine the quality and need for shade. Consider where shade is currently located in the morning, middle of the day and the afternoon, and if it is suitable for the space. Are there outdoor spaces used frequently, that could benefit from shade? The audit results will help you determine where shade improvements need to be made after which you can start to explore solutions for reducing UV exposure such as changing the way the playground is used, making existing shaded areas more appealing or investing in new shade development. For more information on understanding shade options, refer to our Shade Fact Sheet.

Sunglasses

Wearing close-fitting, wrap-around sunglasses that meet AS/NZS 1067:2016 (Sunglasses: lens category 2, 3 or 4) is an important sun protection strategy. However, if it is not suitable or safe to wear sunglasses, wearing a broad-brimmed hat that shades the eyes and using shaded areas can reduce UV radiation to the eyes by 50%.

Services can encourage the use of sunglasses by staff and children when the UV is 3 and above. If a parent or guardian requests their child wears sunglasses, SunSmart services are expected to be supportive of this decision and where practical, support the child to wear sunglasses when outdoors.


This webpage was last reviewed and updated in January 2024.