Secondary Schools and Sun Protection
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Childhood and adolescence are critical periods during which exposure to UV radiation can contribute to skin cancer in later life.
Melanoma is the most common cancer among young Australians. The good news is that skin cancer, including melanoma, is highly preventable that’s why it is vitally important that we protect children and adolescents from UV.
In Australia, up to 95% of melanomas are attributable to overexposure to UV radiation. If we protect our skin we reduce our risk.
Secondary schools are ideally placed to play a leading role in the reduction of future skin cancer rates by:
- building on the positive sun protection behaviours and attitudes learnt through the early education years
- protecting students when the UV level reaches three or above
- influencing sun protection attitudes and behaviours through education and role modelling
- Acknowledging that UV protection is a duty of care issue
- meeting WHS requirements to protect your staff
Click on the links below for resources and tools to help improve sun safety in your school.
Resources for Teachers
Resources for students
Discover how much sunscreen to use and how to apply it correctly in order to be protected.
Go to the Sunscreen calculator.
Educate staff and students on how to apply sunscreen correctly by watching this video:
Secondary School Support and Resources
By implementing these best-practice sun protection recommendations, secondary schools can help protect staff and students from UV and reduce their risk of skin cancer.
Understanding the UV index, and checking it daily, lets you know when sun protection is needed.
In NSW, UV levels are high enough (UV 3 or above) to damage unprotected skin most months of the year.
Check the UV index daily using the SunSmart Global UV app on a smart device or install the SunSmart Widget onto a browser on network.
Quality shade can reduce ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure by up to 75%. Learn more about shade as a planning and design priority for skin cancer prevention in NSW.
A shade audit is an important first step to designing good quality shade as it helps identify the path of the sun, how people use the space and the best position for the shade. You don’t need to be a design expert to assess an area.
A good place to start is with a visual shade audit using the following shade audit tools:
A sun protection policy is one of the best ways to ensure your school is reducing skin cancer risk for the students and school staff. By developing and implementing a best-practice sun protection policy, you will support your school community to improve their own sun protection behaviours and reduce their risk of skin cancer.
Check out the Secondary School Sun Protection Guidance as a great starting point for developing you own sun protection policy.
We would love to send out free sunscreen to schools however, Cancer Council NSW is a 94% community funded organisation and we, unfortunately, don’t have the capacity to assist schools and services in this way.
Generation SunSmart is a great way to become a SunSmart educator yourself. It is an eLearning site that contains modules around skin cancer, being SunSmart and sun protection strategies.
They can be completed at your own pace and revisited at any time. Once you have completed all the modules, you’ll be awarded a Generation SunSmart certificate.
Sun Protection is required whenever the UV reaches three or above. In NSW, UV levels are high enough (UV 3 or above) to damage unprotected skin most months of the year, even on cool and cloudy days.
When the UV is 3 or above, it is important to: slip on some sun protective clothing; slop on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen; slap on a sun safe hat; slide on some sunglasses and seek shade.