As Victoria’s long hot summer continues and sun protection at the front of people’s minds, SunSmart reveals that Victorian early childhood education and care services are leading the way in children’s sun protection.
SunSmart schools and early childhood co-ordinator, Justine Osborne, said: “Victorian services are winning gold when it comes to sun protection for young children. Our latest survey shows that 99% of early childhood education and care services in Victoria have a written sun protection policy, an increase of 5% since 2008 and higher than the current national rate of 86%.”
Of the 224 Victorian services that responded to the national Cancer Council survey, 98% stated that they required children to wear sunscreen and all services said that they required children to wear hats whilst playing outside.
Alexandra Avenue Children's Centre in Sunshine is one of the services leading the way. Jackie Fisher, director of the centre, said: “We are 100% committed to providing the children in our care with a sun safe environment to learn and play outside. Our sun protection policy is regularly reviewed to make sure it’s in line with SunSmart guidelines and when it comes to going outside at this time of year, our staff make it clear to the children that they must slip, slop, slap, seek and slide.”
Ms Osborne said: “Victorian early years services have always set a high standard for sun protection but it’s great to see that they’re striving to be even better. We are delighted with the progress that they have made in sun protection over the past 5 years.”
“There is still some room for improvement particularly when it comes to clothing. Almost one third (28%) of services did not require children to wear sun protective clothing whilst outside playing, which is significantly higher than the national figure of 14%. This is worrying given that children attend services during times of peak ultraviolet radiation (UV) levels,” she said.
“Sun protective clothing is one of the best protection methods against UV radiation. It’s vital that services include it as part of their policy. Parents also have an important part to play as they can help support their service’s SunSmart initiatives by making good clothing choices when sending their children to care.” Ms Osborne said.
“There is a simple rule to follow, if you can see skin, UV can reach it. Try to cover as much skin with cool, loose fitting clothing. Tops with elbow length sleeves, and if possible, collars and knee length or longer style shorts and skirts are best. If a child is wearing a singlet top or dress, don’t forget to pop a t-shirt or shirt in their bag so they can put it on before they go outside to play.” She said.
For further information visit sunsmart.com.au