For many years, VicHealth supported and invested in the Cancer Council Victoria’s SunSmart, one of the longest running and most successful skin cancer prevention programs in the world.
While melanoma incidence rates in Victoria continue to rise, the rates of increase have slowed. There is now a slower increase in those aged over 60, and falling incidence rates in those under 60.
These lower rates in younger people are consistent with a positive effect of the SunSmart program on behaviour change. In addition, earlier detection of skin cancer is leading to improved long-term health outcomes.
Today SunSmart plays a leading role in promoting the balance between the risks of skin cancer from too much sun exposure and maintaining adequate vitamin D levels.
SunSmart is jointly funded by Cancer Council Victoria and VicHealth.
Attitudes towards sun protection have changed dramatically since the iconic 1980's 'Slip! Slop! Slap!' advertising campaign. More than 30 years on and Victorians are now more than twice as likely to wear hats and sunscreen.
The SunSmart message has also evolved to include 'Seek shade and Slide on sunglasses' and a component which focuses on both the harms and benefits of UV.
Achievements of the SunSmart program include:
- Positioning of Victoria as a national leader in solarium legislation. There has been a substantial drop in the number of solarium sites in Victoria since solarium legislation was introduced.
- Participation rates in SunSmart of 90% of Victorian primary schools. This is one of the highest participation rates of any public health program across Australia, reaching more than 400,000 Victorian children.
- A vitamin D campaign, encouraging Victorians to get sufficient and safe sun exposure to help with vitamin D levels for strong bones, muscles and overall health.
Visit sunsmart.com.au for more information about UV, skin cancer and vitamin D.