New program targets health of Queensland teachers

Hundreds of teachers across the state are set to benefit from a new program targeting teachers’ health.

The program, developed jointly by Cancer Council Queensland and TUH, will be rolled out from September, focussing on cancer prevention and healthy living.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said Queensland teachers deserved every encouragement to care for their health.

“This will be the first program of its kind specifically targeting the health and wellbeing of educators statewide,” she said.

“Teachers play a pivotal role in the community and also face unique challenges associated with their profession.

“For example, evidence has found that Queensland teachers commonly exceed the daily recommended limits for unprotected exposure to ultra violet radiation, significantly increasing their risks of skin cancer.

“Of particular concern, research by the University of Southern Queensland has shown that most teachers enter outdoor environments during peak UV periods, but don’t routinely use sun protection.

“The TUH CCQ Healthy Educators Program will strive to educate our educators and minimise their exposure to the Queensland sun during school break times, to improve their occupational and overall health outcomes.

“Skin cancer remains a major priority for cancer control within our school community – it can take a terrible toll on the physical and emotional wellbeing of our teachers – who are so often exposed to skin cancer risks in the line of duty, caring for our children.

“They are also role models for our next generation, so ensuring that teachers are SunSmart will help to encourage our kids to be SunSmart too.

“An estimated 324,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are excised every year in Queensland – a staggeringly high number, with many of them avoidable and preventable.”

TUH CEO, Mr Rob Seljak, said the program would also focus more broadly on cancer prevention and healthy living, to reduce teachers’ overall risks of cancer and other chronic diseases.

“Not only are 27,000 Queenslanders diagnosed with cancer annually, but 8700 Queenslanders will tragically lose their life to this devastating disease,” Mr Seljak said.

“We asked ourselves the question, what more can we do to ensure Queenslanders, and in particular our educators, have the best possible chances of preventing, detecting early, and beating this disease?

“While there is no easy answer, we do know that Queenslanders can all play a part in helping to reduce their individual risks, simply by making some healthy lifestyle changes.

“Astonishingly, 48 per cent of the entire cancer burden in Australia can be attributed to lung, bowel, breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers.

“Our new Healthy Educators’ Program will involve half-day workshops and engagement activities across the state, urging educators to take steps to improve their health and in so doing, raise the health and wellbeing of the whole school community.

“We know that increasing awareness of healthy lifestyle behaviours can reduce risks of a range of cancers and other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

“Evidence shows that regular physical activity can reduce individual risks of bowel and breast cancers, and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce risks of cancers such as liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, and cancer of the kidney.

“Our hope is that this program will help us to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases, in addition to encouraging educators to take part in recommended cancer screening and early detection programs.

“We’ve long been working in the community to enhance wellbeing and quality of life and look forward to seeing the fruits of this program unfold.

“The evidence is clear, all of us have the power to influence cancer control, and TUH is extremely pleased to team up with Cancer Council Queensland on this ground-breaking program.

“We’re proudly committed to helping all Queensland educators, schools, and the broader community in the fight against cancer and other chronic diseases. Together, we can save lives,” he said.

For more information or interviews, please contact:
Laura McKoy,
Media Manager,
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5345
Mobile: 0409 001 171