Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 November 2021) . . Page.. 3255 ..
The Cancer Council notes that around two in three Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before the age of 70. That is way too many people, for what effectively can be a preventable form of cancer. Further, SunSmart Australia reports that around 2,000 Australians die from skin cancer each year. And Medicare records indicate the treatment of more than 100 skin cancers every hour across the country. The cost to the nation’s health system is estimated to be more than $700 million annually.
While skin cancers are often diagnosed in those aged over 40 and can sometimes develop very quickly, in as little as six weeks, activities which lead to cancer can be the result of behaviour undertaken when the person was much younger.
Melanoma is the most common cancer affecting 18- to 35-year-olds—those who are most likely to be standing around ACT playgrounds, supervising children. Cricket is an example of a sport in the ACT where people, often in this age group, are exposed to UV radiation for lengthy periods of time and must take extra caution to ensure that they practise sun-smart behaviour.
The good news here is that skin cancers are one of the most easily preventable forms of cancer. Theoretically, I think most of us are well aware of what we should be doing to reduce our risk, including, as adults, to model good behaviour for our children. But this research conducted in the ACT indicates that, in practice, we are not always very good at it, despite knowing what we should do and despite thinking that it is important to practise this behaviour.
Research further indicates that improved messaging aimed at adults, including parents and caregivers in and around children’s play spaces, where they are often spending long periods of time exposed to UV radiation, could help to support behavioural change and positive outcomes.
The 2020-21 ACT budget has committed significant funds for upgrades to various playgrounds across the ACT. I am particularly pleased to have recently seen the funding commitment to and final designs for the Duffy shops, including playground space, in my electorate. During community consultation, one of the most important issues raised was the need for shade cover at the playground. I am really pleased to see this included in the final designs, and I know the community are too.
Thank you, Mr Steel, and your hardworking team in the Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate for delivering exactly what the community has requested. Shade cover certainly ticks one of those five boxes of slip, slop, slap, seek and slide, and will go a long way towards helping prevent unnecessary skin cancers in our community.
I bring this motion to the Assembly today to call on the ACT government to explore opportunities to convey more sun-smart and sun-safety messaging in playgrounds in the ACT. The ACT is a progressive jurisdiction and leads the way with so many positive initiatives.
Let us start leading the way in a reduction of skin cancer rates among members of our community. Let us do more to convey these really important messages about