Skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure during childhood and adolescence has a big impact on future skin cancer risk. Reducing UV exposure reduces skin cancer risk. Students are in school when daily UV levels are at their peak, meaning schools are uniquely placed to educate about sun protection behaviour, minimise UV exposure and ultimately reduce a student’s lifetime risk of skin cancer. The nationally recognised SunSmart Schools program supports schools in creating sun safe environments and promoting sun protection behaviours to students, staff and families.
Support for WA schools
- The SunSmart Schools program assists schools to minimise over-exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and reduce the risk of skin cancer by developing a comprehensive sun protection policy.
- Sun protection best practice guidelines for Western Australian schools
- Teachers and staff can access our free online professional learning modules at Generation SunSmart.
What is a SunSmart School?
SunSmart Schools recognise that UV levels peak in the middle of the day and that as the UV Index rises, the associated risk of skin damage also increases. A SunSmart School has a sun protection policy and practices in place which aim to reduce over-exposure to UV. Cancer Council WA recommends implementing a sun protection policy when the UV levels are 3 or above.
The criteria to join the SunSmart Schools program are:
- Most or all students wear sun protective hats (not peaked caps) year round, or when the UV Index is 3 and above. It is a requirement that hats are worn during term 2 and 3 when the UV is over 3.
- Sunscreen is available throughout the school and its use encouraged.
- Outdoor events are rescheduled to avoid peak UV times when possible.
- Sun protection is encouraged through teacher and parent role modelling and classroom activities.
- The school uniform/dress code includes sun protective items (e.g. shirts with collars, longer sleeves).
- The school has a sun protection policy.
Why become a SunSmart School?
A SunSmart membership benefits the whole school community including children, staff, parents and carers. It is free to join and can help schools:
- Meet sun protection regulatory and duty of care requirements. A sun protection policy can assist schools to meet this obligation.
- Reduce exposure to UV and future skin cancer risk. The crucial period for sustaining damage from sun exposure occurs during the school years. Children are at school during peak UV radiation times.
- Influence sun protection behaviours and practices through education.
- Develop sun protection policies.
- Access current evidence-based information, resources, advice and support.
The SunSmart Schools program is free to join.
If your school becomes a SunSmart School, Cancer Council WA provides you with the following support:
- A ‘We are SunSmart’ metal sign
- SunSmart membership certificate
- Free curriculum and supporting classroom resources
- Information on sun protection for parents and school staff
- Advice on health promotion strategies including policy development
- Regular updates on sun protection best practice
- SunSmart talks to parents, staff and students
- A 20% discount at the Cancer Council WA shop in Subiaco
Why join the program rather than do it alone?
- Peace of mind – Cancer Council WA endorsing your policy and procedures lets you know you have it right.
- Comprehensiveness – have you thought of everything? There is much more to sun protection than a No Hat No Play rule.
- Current information – access accurate, current information on sun protection issues such as sunscreen allergies, nanoparticles, vitamin D, occupational safety and health and duty of care.
- Support – you get information about how other schools have dealt with particular problems, free teaching resources, access to competitions and discounts on sun protection items at the Cancer Council WA shop.
- Advocacy – Cancer Council WA speakers can talk to parents and staff about the risk of skin cancer and the value of good sun protection policies and procedures.
- Critical mass – formally joining the program allows Cancer Council WA to count your school in the program membership. In turn, this helps convince other schools to join the program and demonstrates your commitment to reducing the burden of skin cancer in the community.
Developing a sun protection policy
Each school is responsible for developing, putting into action and regularly reviewing its own sun protection policy. The SunSmart Schools Program has example policies and templates to help you to become a SunSmart school or renew your membership.
A sun protection policy should address:
- Why the sun protection policy is important for your school?
- What effect the sun protection measures will have on your school’s curriculum, environment and behaviour?
- How and when the policy will be put into action and reviewed?
- How the impact of the policy will be determined (evaluation)?
School health and wellbeing policy – This template is designed for schools to use as a base or framework when developing a health and wellbeing policy. It focuses on nutrition, physical activity, sun protection, positive mental health, not using tobacco products or e-cigarettes and avoiding alcohol use. Schools can add or remove content to suit their needs and requirements. The highlighted areas in this policy template relate to the SunSmart Schools, Crunch&Sip and Mentally Healthy Schools programs. Including these components satisfies the requirements of the programs and meets the accreditation criteria for membership.
Apply to become a SunSmart School or renew your membership
Becoming a SunSmart School is easy, simply:
- Review the Sun protection best practice guidelines for WA schools
- Develop a sun protection policy or update the existing one. A SunSmart Schools sample policy is available to download and adapt.
- We will review your application and policy and provide feedback or suggested updates.
- Once approved, we will post out your SunSmart membership pack and you will be able to proudly display your ‘We are SunSmart’ sign.
Cancer Council WA requires SunSmart Schools to review their sun protection policy every three years to maintain their SunSmart membership.