$1 million pledged to SunSmart campaign to encourage Victorians to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide this summer

Wednesday 31 October, 2012
  • State Government announces funding for a SunSmart mass media campaign this summer
  • St Paul's Primary School and 128 others celebrate 18 years of being SunSmart schools

SunSmart has welcomed today's announcement by the State Government that it will fund an advertising and digital media campaign to warn Victorians about the dangers of sun exposure over summer.

The announcement was made during St Paul's Primary School celebration of 18 years of being a SunSmart school.

SunSmart Manager, Jen Makin said the money would enable SunSmart to continue to remind Victorians of the importance of sun protection, especially during the summer months.

"Over 40,000 Victorians are diagnosed and almost 400 die from skin cancer each year, clearly we need to reduce this significant health burden in Victoria," Ms Makin said.

Ms Makin, along with VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter, took the opportunity to congratulate St Paul's Primary School which has been part of the SunSmart Schools Program since it began 18 years ago.

VicHealth's Ms Rechter said the SunSmart Program is one of the most successful health promotion programs in Australia.

"The SunSmart program has set new standards in health promotion and is leading the way in reducing UV-related harm. This has led to programs such as the SunSmart Schools Program and important work internationally," Ms Rechter said.

"VicHealth is proud that the Cancer Council Victoria has, very recently, been redesignated as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for UV Radiation – educating not just Australians, but also using the knowledge gained here in Victoria to help reduce the worldwide burden of skin cancer," she said.

As part of the 18th celebrations as a SunSmart school, St Paul's Primary School was given a special plaque by State Health Minister David Davis to commemorate the school's long-term commitment to ensuring students, staff and families are SunSmart.

Ms Makin said while 18 years ago, being a SunSmart school meant ensuring pupils were protected from the sun during months when UV levels are high, the program has evolved to actively encourage sun exposure during months where UV is low.

This helps with Vitamin D production for healthy bones, muscles and overall health.

The SunSmart Schools Program was established after ongoing research revealed overexposure to the sun during childhood increased future skin cancer risk.

"Schools play an integral role in the reduction of future skin cancer rates because significant UV exposure occurs during childhood and adolescence and children attend schools during times of peak ultraviolet radiation (UV) levels," Ms Makin said.

"SunSmart schools work hard to create sun safe environments and influence lifelong SunSmart habits through education and positive role modeling," she said.

"The program has come a long way over the past 18 years with 90% of Victorian primary schools now participating in the program," Ms Makin said.

The SunSmart schools program aims to:

  • Ensure that all children and staff maintain a healthy UV exposure balance, reducing their risk of skin cancer while getting enough sun for vitamin D.
  • Encourage children and staff to use a combination of sun protection measures (hats, clothing, sunscreen, shade and, if practical, sunglasses) during the daily sun protection times (whenever UV Index levels reach 3 and above) from September to April.
  • Encourage children and staff to put sun protection away for May to August, when UV levels in Victoria are mostly below 3.
  • Work towards a safe outdoor environment that provides shade for children and staff at appropriate times.
  • Assist children to be responsible for their own sun protection. 

"We congratulate their commitment and look forward to many more SunSmart years to come," Ms Makin added.

Additional information:

  • St James Primary School, also in the City of Glen Eira, is also celebrating 18 years as a SunSmart school.
  • St Joseph's School in Kerang was the first school to join the program in April 1994.

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