How investment in sun protection measures will save lives

Posted 24 Jan 2017.

In the lead up to the election on March 11, we're calling on the next state government to invest $750k per annum for 4 years to install UV meters in schools and offer incentives for better shade in community areas.

Here’s Why:

• While progress is being made, WA still has among the highest skin cancer rates in the world.

• Skin cancer remains both the most common cancer and the easiest cancer to avoid in Australia.

• Skin cancer costs the community hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Studies show that every dollar invested in skin cancer prevention saves between $2.30 and $3.00 in treatment costs.

• Sun protection works - The incidence of skin cancer is falling dramatically among people who have grown up with the SunSmart message but not among older generations.


How will investment from the next state government help?

Both of the initiatives we are calling on the next state government to invest in aim to reduce the level of UV radiation we receive every day. They will help to reduce skin cancer rates in WA and ultimately save lives.

Why are we focusing on UV meters in high schools and better shade in community areas?

UV meters in WA high schools

Students are at school during the peak UV times each day – meaning they can be exposed to the strongest UV rays regularly and are at risk of developing skin cancer – we need to protect our children and future generations.

Embedding a strong sun protection culture in high schools has long been challenging. Indirect approaches have proven to be more successful than direct messaging (e.g. providing SunSmart uniforms and building shade to protect students from UV works – but just telling them to wear a hat doesn’t.)

UV meters are another indirect strategy that may lead to behaviour change over time. The meters sit quietly in the school grounds and display local UV levels all day, every day. When combined with a simple lesson about the UV index, we anticipate that students and staff will begin to understand just how strong UV is, along with the need to cover up when the UV is above 3.

Reinforcing the importance of protecting ourselves from deadly UV rays is the key to reducing skin cancer rates in WA and protecting our future generations.


Better shade in community areas

Shade is the most difficult of the sun protection measures for people to supply themselves while they are out at events or enjoying community facilities. This means that we rely on the venues within our community to provide shade for us.

Yet too often, we see public facilities being constructed with little or no shade in the original design.

This means shade either has to be retrofitted at greater cost than if it had been included originally – or worse still, shade is neglected completely.

A program of incentives for local government and others to include shade in future designs (or retrofit shade as required) to public facilities will help reduce our exposure to UV.


Want to know more about how to protect yourself from UV? Check out our top tips for staying safe in the sun.


Join us in petitioning our politicians in the lead up to the March state election to take meaningful action and make cancer a priority. Whether by restricting the availability of tobacco, installing UV meters in our schools, or increasing funding for vital research, our state representatives have the power to make changes that will have a significant impact towards achieving better health outcomes for our community.

By combining our voices, united against cancer, we can make a real difference - and it only takes a few minutes of your time. Find out more about our election priorities here.

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Found in:  News - 2017  | View all news