Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma diagnoses in the world. Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70.
In Victoria, more than 90,000 skin cancers are treated each year. In 2015, 512 Victorians died from skin cancer, which is more than twice as many as the state road toll. It’s estimated Victorian public hospitals spend up to $55 million treating skin cancer each year.
But the good news is, almost all skin cancers are preventable.
SunSmart aims to reduce the burden of skin cancer in Victoria by promoting steps to prevent UV damage and find skin cancer early, at the most treatable stages.
SunSmart works with primary and secondary schools, early childhood centres, workplaces, health professionals, local government and sporting clubs and other organisations to promote a healthy approach to UV exposure. This intensive community-level work is underpinned by state-wide media campaigns that communicate the SunSmart message and change broader social norms.
One of the program’s most successful media campaigns was launched by SunSmart and Cancer Council Victoria in 1981 featuring Sid Seagull. The iconic and internationally recognised Slip! Slop! Slap! campaign was successful in encouraging people to protect themselves from the sun. Sid had Australians slipping on long-sleeved clothing, slopping on sunscreen and slapping on a hat.
Today, the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) and Cancer Council Victoria jointly fund the program. SunSmart has also been a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for UV Radiation since 2004.