Townsville schools in need of a Slip, Slop, Slap

Cancer Council is calling on Townsville schools to reinforce their SunSmart policies, with new research showing some are slacking off when it comes to skin cancer prevention.

The recent study*, conducted by James Cook University, showed only 53 per cent of students and 47 per cent of adults in SunSmart schools in Townsville wear hats in the school environment.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said it was vital that staff within any SunSmart Queensland school acted as positive role models to school children.

“Staying SunSmart is imperative for young children – direct exposure to the sun without taking protective measures when the UV is three or above puts children at risk of skin cancer,” Ms Clift said.

“Queensland has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, and we know that sun exposure in the first 18 years of life contributes significantly to a person’s lifetime risk for skin cancer.

“We expect that all Queensland schools would abide by their school’s SunSmart policy to reduce skin cancer risk.”

Cancer Council Queensland recommends both adults and children ensure they stay SunSmart and follow the five recommended sun protective behaviours whenever they are outdoors.

Queenslanders should Slip on sun protective clothing, Slop on minimum SPF30 or above broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on wraparound sunglasses to best reduce their risk of skin cancer.

Ms Clift said it was the responsibility of each SunSmart school to implement their SunSmart policy and to set a good example to children.

“If a school has a SunSmart policy in place, it’s expected that all staff and children would be encouraged to abide by the policy – including wearing hats when outdoors,” Ms Clift said.

“Every four years, schools and early childhood centres who have been granted a SunSmart status are required to complete a review process to ensure their policies and practices continue to meet Cancer Council Queensland’s criteria.

“Role modelling and the reinforcement of the SunSmart message are important factors within the Cancer Council Queensland SunSmart policy.”

Cancer Council Queensland assists primary schools in becoming SunSmart through their National SunSmart Schools Program.

Primary schools can apply to join the free National SunSmart School Program via the Cancer Council Queensland website, under the Prevention tab.

For more information about Cancer Council Queensland and being SunSmart, visit or call Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.

*Turner, D., et al., Does being a “SunSmart School” influence hat-wearing compliance? An ecological study of hat-wearing rates at Australian primary…, Prev. Med. (2013),

For more information, contact:
Kim Ryan, Senior Media Advisor, Cancer Council Queensland P.(07) 3634 5239