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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 November 2021) . . Page.. 3254 ..


seek shade or shelter, and slide on some UV protection sunglasses to block out the sun. It is catchy and it is effective, and our kids are excellent at practising it.

Our schools are excellent at sun-smart practices, to the extent that between August and May children are unable to go outdoors during school hours in the playground if they do not have a hat. Often, children are the ones reminding their parents and caregivers on weekends to slip, slop, slap. However, somewhere along the way it seems that, while we remember that message, we often neglect the practice.

I was contacted recently by a constituent who has undertaken research in this space in the ACT. Dr Vangelis Kanellis is a lecturer at the ANU College of Health and Medicine, as well as a medical registrar and honorary dermatology registrar at the Canberra Hospital. Drawing from my previous research career, I am always really interested in research that is locally relevant and how evidence can be applied for practical outcomes in our community.

The research that Dr Kanellis conducted sought to understand the efficacy and effect of sun-smart awareness and practices by parents and primary caregivers at a public playground in the ACT. The research was undertaken in the summer of 2019. They asked parents and caregivers about their perspectives on the importance of sun-smart messaging and behaviour.

The findings identified that nearly one-third of caregivers at that playground were not wearing sunscreen; nearly three-quarters were not wearing a sun-safe hat for the entire period of time they were out at the playground; over 80 per cent believe it is important to model sun-smart behaviours; and 93 per cent stated a desire for government-supported sun-safety messaging at playgrounds to reinforce and support sun-safety practices by parents and adults and the child or children in their care. So there is clearly work to be done here.

There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. The main cause of skin cancer, the cause of over 95 per cent of them, is the result of overexposure to UV radiation. We all know that UV radiation emits from the sun as well as from artificial sources such as solariums. Australia has banned the use of solariums because research has shown that people who use them have a much higher risk of developing skin cancer. This is one preventative measure that we as a nation have taken, and that is great. However, unfortunately, most areas of Australia experience high levels of sun-related UV radiation year round.

The World Health Organisation notes that higher UV radiation levels are associated with countries such as Australia and New Zealand, located in low altitude zones, and that long-term, repeated UV radiation exposure is a major risk factor for skin cancers. Compounded by this, some members of our community are at greater risk of developing skin cancer than others, including those with fair or freckled skin; people who have light-coloured or red hair and light coloured eyes; people who work or otherwise spend extended periods of time outdoors; and those with a family history of skin cancer.


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