Cancer Council Australia

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SunSmart schools and early childhood programs

National SunSmart Schools ProgramSunSmart logo

Students are in school when daily ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels are at their peak, meaning schools are uniquely placed to educate about sun protection behaviour, minimise UVR exposure and ultimately reduce a student's lifetime risk of skin cancer. All Australian primary schools are encouraged to join the nationally recognised SunSmart Schools program.

Cancer Council launched the National SunSmart Schools program in 1998. Today it is offered to all primary schools nationwide, and is also offered to K-10/12, secondary and special schools in some states.

In order to receive SunSmart status and recognition, primary schools must:

  • have a written sun protection policy meeting minimum standards relating to curriculum, behaviour and the environment
  • be working to increase shade
  • reschedule/minimise outdoor activities during peak UV periods of the year
  • teach, model and reinforce positive sun protection behaviour
  • agree to undertake periodic policy reviews with its state or territory Cancer Council and update their policy accordingly to meet SunSmart standards.

Evidence suggests that childhood exposure to UV radiation contributes significantly to the development of skin cancer in later life. Educating school children and reducing their UV exposure is expected to have a major impact on the future incidence of skin cancer in Australia.

Over-exposure during adulthood also increases the risk of skin cancer. It is equally important that all teachers and staff members are aware of their own occupational UV exposure and protect themselves by adopting a combination of sun protection when UV levels reach 3 and above. Sunscreen should be incorporated into your daily routine on these days.

SunSmart school kids

National SunSmart Early Childhood Program

Early childhood services across Australia can also be awarded SunSmart status and acknowledged for their past and ongoing efforts around skin cancer prevention.

To learn more about the program in your state or territory click on the map below or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

SunSmart Early Childhood Program

Secondary schools and colleges

Currently the National SunSmart Schools program is only offered to secondary schools in Western Australia and Victoria . However, all Australian secondary school communities are encouraged to develop and implement a sun protection policy or plan that aims to reduce UV exposure and minimise the long-term risk of skin damage among students and workers.

Your state or territory Cancer Council may be able to assist your school with policy development, recommendations and resources etc. To contact your state or territory Cancer Council call Cancer Council 13 11 20 or click on the map below.

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This page was last updated on: Wednesday, February 6, 2019

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