Australia Day sunburn warning

Cancer Resources

With Australia Day just around the corner and ultraviolet radiation levels predicted to be extreme, Cancer Council Queensland is urging people to enjoy the day the SunSmart way!

According to the Queensland Government, half of all Queensland adults and children are sunburnt on a yearly basis* and 133 sunburn cases were treated by Queensland emergency departments in the first half of last year.**

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said this data is alarming.

“Almost all of these cases could have been avoided by using good sun protection measures,” Ms McMillan said.

“It’s extremely concerning that some people are getting sunburnt so badly they need emergency care.

“Sunburn isn’t just painful – it’s a sign UV rays have damaged your skin; the sunburn might fade but the UV damage remains and increases your risk of skin cancer.

“Our state has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world – about 3600 Queenslanders are diagnosed with melanoma each year.”

Ms McMillan urged Queenslanders to keep sun protection top-of-mind this Australia Day.

“Many of us will be taking advantage of the long weekend by spending time outdoors, however, at this time of year, the UV levels hit extreme and unprotected skin could burn in as little as 10 minutes,” Ms McMillan said.

“Whether you’re cracking out the cricket set, or heading to the coast or your local dam, you need to follow all five sun-protective behaviours – Slip on protective clothing, Slop on minimum SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on wrap-around sunglasses.

“Where possible, people should avoid excess sun exposure, especially during periods of extreme heat and UV, keep cool and drink as much water as possible.

It’s also crucial that families apply sunscreen properly – apply one teaspoon per limb, for the front and back of the torso, face and neck, including ears, 20 minutes before going outdoors, and reapply at least every two hours.”

Sun protection is required when the ultraviolent (UV) index is 3 and above, which is all year round in Queensland, and can even be from as early as 7.20am in summer.

Cancer Council’s SunSmart app allows people to track UV levels in real time, with advice on applying sunscreen and myth-busting information, and is available in app stores for free, or online via

More information about Cancer Council Queensland and staying SunSmart is available at or 13 11 20.


For more information, please contact:

Lisa Maynard, Public Relations and Social Media Manager, Cancer Council Queensland
Ph: (07) 3634 5171 or 0488 015 702

*Source: Report of the Chief Health Officer Queensland, The Health of Queenslanders Report 2018,

Note to Editors and Producers: For local area sunburn data you can refer to data from The Health of Queenslanders Report 2018: