Since 1999 the National SunSmart Schools Program has been awarding SunSmart status to all ACT Primary Schools which have developed and implemented an up to date and comprehensive sun protection policy that meets minimal SunSmart standards. As of May 2014, close to 85% of Canberra Primary Schools have been awarded national SunSmart status and are actively involved in the program.
The program is aimed toward minimising the amount of time school students (and workers) are directly exposed to potentially harmful solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR). This is achieved through education about being safe in the sun and a school commitment toward developing and/or utilising effective shade areas. Achieving this will reduce the incidents of sunburn and skin damage and ultimately reduce the long term incidence rates of skin cancer and eye damage in the ACT.
Correct sun protection practices not only reduces a child’s risk of skin and eye damage but it also ensures they obtain enough vitamin D from the sun to allow for healthy bone development and maintenance. ACT schools are encouraged to implement their school's sun protection policy from the beginning of August through to the end of May (this is when daily UV levels reach 3 and above in Canberra for part of or most of each day) and are strong enough to damage unprotected skin.
Remember: Always aim to minimise your school's outdoor experiences between 11am and 3pm as much as reasonably practicable during the daylight saving/summer time of the year when daily UV levels are at their strongest.
Why be awarded national SunSmart status?
Australia has one of the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. With their sensitive skin, young children are at particular risk of sunburn and skin damage. Research suggest that over-exposure to the sun's UVR during childhood and adolescence is a major risk factor for developing skin cancer later in life. Research also shows that schools with a comprehensive sun protection policy in place have the greatest number of students and staff protecting themselves from solar ultraviolet radiation.
What's in a SunSmart status?
ACT Schools with a nationally recognised SunSmart status demonstrate to the wider Canberra community that they are committed toward skin cancer prevention and awareness. Schools also remain updated on current sun protection behaviors and strategies including research in this area. Schools with SunSmart status have also agreed to be reviewed by the Cancer Council every 3 years and can rest assure they have the most updated and effective UV protection policy in place.
Plus, achieving SunSmart status will entitle your school to:
- a large We are SunSmart sign to display at your school
- automatic subscription to Being SunSmart under the Canberra Sun E-News
- a SunSmart certificate
- special offers and promotions during the year
- support with your policy development
- access to free resources and posters
- access to free teacher PD online training modules
- view and share your school's SunSmart efforts and achievements via its (NEW) online SunSmart Certificate.
- your school's UV Protection policy and practices reviewed every 3 years
Please note that there is a one off payment of $66.00 due upon SunSmart status being awarded. There are no ongoing costs.