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  • Milestone for local schools and early childhood centres in the fight against skin cancer

    20 November 2017

    Cancer Council SA is using National Skin Cancer Action Week (Nov 19-25) to acknowledge the schools and early childhood centres that have reached a SunSmart membership milestone, demonstrating their commitment to reducing the risk of skin cancer in future generations.

    Research has revealed that primary schools with a written sun protection policy have the greatest number of students and staff protecting themselves from the sun. While SunSmart early childhood centres were more likely to require children to wear sunscreen, hats and sun protective clothing than non-SunSmart centres.

    Cancer Council SA recommends that all schools and early childhood centres develop and implement comprehensive sun protection policies that not only protect the children and staff in their care from over exposure to UV radiation, but also meet their duty of care to children and WHS obligations for staff.

    Research has indicated that sun exposure in childhood and adolescence will determine, to a significant degree, the risk of developing skin cancer later in life. It is estimated that up to 50% of the total UV exposure up to age 60 occurs before age 20, so sun protection in schools and early childhood centres is vital in preventing skin cancer.

    With National Skin Cancer Action Week just around the corner, Cancer Council SA Chief Executive, Lincoln Size, encouraged all schools and early childhood centres to join the SunSmart program as an important way to help prevent skin cancer in the future.

    “The UV is high enough to damage skin for much of the year in South Australia, so prioritising sun protection and awareness from an early age is vital,” Mr Size said.

    “Unfortunately, the common ‘no hat, play in the shade’ practice we see in some SA schools during terms 1 and 4 is really not enough.

    “The SunSmart Program recognises best-practice sun protection strategies in schools and early childhood centres and is free to join, including all the support, curriculum resources and iconic SunSmart sign.

    “The implementation of a SunSmart policy across all schools and centres ensures children and staff have adequate sun protection during peak UV radiation times.

    “School and early childhood centre staff simply don’t have the time to remain aware of the best evidence and to formulate policies which will protect children, and this is where we are here to help.

    “We congratulate these schools and early childhood centres that have been part of the SunSmart program over a sustained period and we encourage other sites to ensure they are receiving the most up to date information and advice by also becoming officially SunSmart.”

    Each of the schools and centres have received a certificate recognising the milestone achievement.

    A SunSmart school or early childhood centre is one that:

    • has a comprehensive sun protection policy that meets a minimum national standard covering the areas of curriculum, behaviour and the environment
    • provides, or is working towards, adequate shade facilities
    • ensures children and staff are well-protected when the UV radiation level is 3 and above, particularly during peak UV times of the day, during terms 1, 3 and 4 (beginning of August to the end of April).
    • teaches, role models and reinforces positive skin protection behaviours
    • agrees to undertake policy reviews with Cancer Council SA to ensure policy and practice and stay up to date with the national standard.

    To check the SunSmart schools in your area that have reached a SunSmart milstone visit www.sunsmart.org.au and click on either the ‘early childhood centres’ or ‘primary schools and out school hours care’ tab.

    For more information about the SunSmart Program visit www.sunsmart.org.au or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

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