Bright future for sun protection under Labor plan

Friday 28 November, 2014

Cancer Council Victoria has welcomed today's $15 million commitment from the Labor Party that would fund new initiatives under the iconic and world-renowned SunSmart program.

Today, Opposition Leader Dan Andrews announced that if elected a Labor government would spend $15 million over four years to ensure Victoria continues to lead the world in ultraviolet radiation (UV) protection. Of that, $10 million will go towards improving shade protection in public areas like playgrounds, beaches and parks, and $5 million will be invested to support successful SunSmart campaigns.

Helping people cut their cancer risk was one of the election priorities that Cancer Council Victoria identified in July. Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said SunSmart had a proven track record having prevented more than 103,000 skin cancers in Victoria between 1988 and 2003, and thus saving 1000 lives.

“In a given week more than 780 Victorians will be diagnosed with a new skin cancer, and eight will die. Australia still has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, but this is also one of the most preventable cancers,” Mr Harper said.

“The good news is that you can reduce risk of skin cancer at any age, whether you are 16 or 60, with good sun protection behaviours.”

SunSmart is also one of the most cost effective prevention programs, with every dollar spent on the program resulting in a $3.60 saving to the Victorian public health system.

“SunSmart saves lives, and it saves us all money,” he said.

SunSmart facts:

  • The SunSmart program, jointly funded by Cancer Council Victoria and the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) since 1988, leads the world in UV protection.
  • SunSmart works with schools, early childhood services, workplaces, local government, sporting organisations and communities in educating and promoting UV protection and early detection of skin cancer.
  • While melanoma incidence in Victoria continues to rise, there are now falling rates in people younger than 40 years, consistent with growing up with SunSmart behaviours.
  • More than 430,000 Victorian primary school children practice SunSmart behaviours and 90 per cent of Victorian primary schools are SunSmart members.
  • In 1988 only 2 per cent of Victorian preschool children wore hats – this has now increased to 97 per cent.
  • The SunSmart message has reached more than 30,000 outdoor workers, significantly improving knowledge about UV as a work place hazard and how workers can protect themselves.

Population data shows that between 1988 and 2010 Victorians:

  • wearing hats on summer weekends increased from 18 per cent to 44 per cent.
  • using sunscreen has increased from 21 per cent to 37 per cent in adults. Nine out of every 10 parents also report using sunscreen to protect their children.
  • who prefer no suntan has increased from just 18 per cent to 49 per cent (in young people)
  • who desire a moderate to dark tan has dropped from 75 per cent to 39 per cent (in young people).