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Importance Of Sun Safety In Australia

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Investigation – Analytical exposition


In Australia, the importance of sun safety should be extremely high as Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. In 2013, more than 2,200 Australians died from this disease because of the lack of understanding of sun safety. (Cancer Council, 2018) In Queensland one in two people will develop cancer before 85 years old. Though, some cancer cases (one third) can be prevented through lifestyle choices, such as wearing sunscreen, T-shirts and hats. (Cancer Council, 2018). Skin cancer is formed by too much ultra violet (UV) radiation (caused by the sun) which can damage the genetic material (DNA) in skin cells, if enough DNA damage builds up over time the cells can spread out of control which then can cause skin cancer. (Together We Will Beat Cancer, 2019)

Sun safety should be implemented into the education plan for all schools. This is because the most skin damage happens while in childhood and adolescence. It’s important that young children follow all sun safety measures as many children by the age of fifteen have already done irreversible damage to their skin which is a result of sun exposure. In Australia skin cancer is the most common cancer, it’s approximated that ninety five percent of skin cancers can be prevented by lowering the exposure to UV radiation (the sun). Therefore, sun safety lessons should be implemented into all schools. (NSW government, 2019) If we can lower the risk of skin cancers, why wouldn’t we want to?

The purpose of this report is to identify the trends in skin cancer(students are in high risk), investigate why these trends exist(not using sun safe materials), analyse the trends(students don’t wear school hats) and lastly suggest new sun safety strategies(crazy hat days, free hats). This will be present throughout this report.

The primary data was collected through two surveys; one for the students (years eight and nine), and one for the teachers; to try and get an understanding of their knowledge of sun safety.

Topic 1:

Through the primary sources (student surveys) it can be identified that when asked, rate your sun safety importance on a scale of one to ten most students (one hundred and forty one) answers ranged from four through to seven on the continuum and fifty one students believe that sun safety doesn’t really matter, whereas only fifty seven students believe that sun safety is important. The students clearly do not believe that sun safety is important therefore they do not care about it, instead students continue their bad habits of not implementing sun safety measures. (Teachers don’t let primary school students out without a hat. So why do we let teens?, 2019)

The students were asked “In what circumstances do you wear sunscreen?”, only eight out of two hundred and fifty people answered that they wear sunscreen every day. This can clearly be linked to the students understanding of how they find sun safety not that important. (Sun-safe behaviour among secondary school students in Australia , 2000)

The survey asked if students protect their eyes or feet from the sun, the most common answer of thirty-two-point five percent of students answered, “I don’t protect either”.

The students were asked if they knew what UVA and UVB means, approximately ninety-five students said no they didn’t know what these were. These results can be attributed to students not being health literate regarding the sun’s risk.

When asked if students wear a hat while at school the common answer was no. fifty eight-point four percent don’t wear a hat while at school. The reason for this could be because of the hat design, not owning a school hat, not liking the hat policy and not wanting to wear a hat. The students were then asked if not wearing their own hat prevented them from participating in physical activity in lunch times, one hundred and thirty students out of two hundred and thirteen students said yes it does. With the high rate of obesity, childhood diabetes and a general lack of exercise it is important to encourage students to wear hats and participate.

The teachers were also asked to participate in a survey. When asked if you knew that sunscreen is supplied for students by the school, twenty nine out of sixty-seven teachers did not know this. Therefore, if the teachers are unaware of this how would the students know this is also linked to not having enough knowledge around sun safety. Forty six out of sixty-seven teachers believe that students should be able to wear their own sun safety hats while at school as it wouldn’t impact on the students learning and it could protect more students from skin cancer. Approximately sixty-four teachers were surveyed and not one of these teachers knew what seek or slide meant, this is linked to the lack of understanding surrounding health literacy. Most teachers did not know what UVA and UVB means, this proves that there is not enough understanding of the sun safety requirements at Dalby State High School. Teachers have a lack of knowledge to do with sun safety therefore every teacher should participate in several sun safe meetings.

Topic 2:

The Social Ecological Model impacts people’s sun safety as relationships, community and society have a major influence about the decisions an individual make. For example, for relationships at school some students find wearing the school hat makes them “uncool” whereas wearing their own hat makes them “cool”. The community needs to consider improving opportunities for everyone to participate in learning better policies to do with sun safety. To create a climate in which all of society take part in trying to reduce the level of melanoma, education should include all sectors of society.

The school policy for sun safety is a barrier in the fact that it has not been updated since two thousand and ten and doesn’t meet many of the requirements that are included in the document. For example, point three on the first page states “create an awareness to reschedule outdoor activities to support sun safety requirements”, this does not occur and has not occurred in the four years I have attended Dalby State High School. Utilising under cover areas (which are already available) and introducing a no hat no play policy would improve in the reduction of risks to the students.

At DSHS the teachers lack a full understanding of sun safety. This is a barrier towards all students as students understanding will never be any better until the teachers gain the knowledge needed to teach the students the importance of sun safety.

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Everyone is consistently moving through the river of life, with barriers and enablers. The barriers listed above are impacting a person’s river of life as the school policy lacks enough protocols for the teachers to gain a proper understanding of sun safety.

Other schools are implementing sun safety through being a Sun Smart School. They have a no hat no play policy. Hats are worn year-round and sunscreen is available everywhere. Peek sunlight hours are avoided. (Creative, 2019)

Other countries are enabling sun safety by implementing educational interventions promoting sun protection for outdoor workers by including hats and sunscreen as part of the uniform. (implementaion science , 2015)

Schools that do not follow the same protocols as Sun Smart Schools are enabling students to take the lazy approach to the importance of sun safety. Other countries are reaching out to all their outdoor workers and are trying to improve their sun safety. This changes people’s positions on the river of life because they can move up the river rather than down the river. A lack of knowledge lowers a person’s chance of survival where sun cancer is concerned.


Some suggestions that Dalby State High School could do to enable sun safety would be to health classes should be mandatory for all year levels, no hat no play policy, applying sunscreen every lesson before going outside, moving PE lessons to indoors for summer, investing in an indoor sport area, letting students get/ have water when they need it and if all of these are accomplishment their chances of developing skin cancer in the future is reduced.

Task 2


By investigating sun safety at Dalby State High School (DSHS), the conclusion found was the policy was outdated and underused. This was assessed by surveys and letting students wear a non-school appropriate hat for one day. The group then decided to do a hat day as not even half of the students wear a hat while participating in sports. The findings from the participation levels on the non-school hat day were predominately only the year eight and nine’s. For one day and one day only students could wear any appropriate hat they wanted to.

Topic 1:

The year ten health class became aware of the fact that most students at DSHS do not wear a hat at all while they’re at school. Survey results showed that students didn’t like the school hats and that they would much rather wear their own hat around school to try and form their own identity. The group decided that holding a day where students can wear a non-school hat to raise money for cancer counsel (Cancer Council, 2018) would be a good idea to see if more students would participate in wearing a hat.

The RE-AIM framework (Russ Glasgow, 2019) influenced the group’s decision making by firstly getting us to think about how we are going to reach the students and make them want to participate (letting everyone wear a non–school hat). Secondly how we know our plan is working (surveys, how many students participated). Thirdly, getting support from Doctor Russel (for the students to be able to wear their own hats). Fourthly, making sure everyone knows what is happening and when it is happening (being prepared). Lastly, seeing if the plan can be implemented in the long term. Therefore, RE- AIM helped to produce the idea of our plan to implement non-school hats at DSHS.

The enablers of the action (plan) would be most students did wear a hat; most students did then wear sun safe hats; money was raised for a great cause; the school wouldn’t have to manufacture school hats and the money could then be used to buy something of importance. The barriers of the action (plan) would be that not all students were able to participate (as they were at a different school function); not being able to talk about skin cancer as much (as of the assignment dead line) and the hats not being in the uniform policy (not getting approval). These are the barriers and enablers (healthschool, n.d.) for our action (plan).

The target group was the junior school (year’s seven to nine) but everyone was invited to participate on the day. This target market is known for not wearing a hat (proven in the survey results). By allowing students to wear their own hat the students then participated in wearing a hat so it can be assumed that not all the students like the hat design and that the school hat policy is not helping the students be sun safe. The school is then failing to fulfil their responsibility in their duty of care to their students (School’s Duty of Care, 2019).

Topic 2

The Social Ecological Model ( National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention, 2019) influenced everyone’s decision to participate or not participate in the hat day. This is shown by financial resources as some students may not have the sun safety equipment due to financial problems. Stigma in schools is another contributing factor as there is stigma around students not being cool if they were the school hats. Social networks such as Instagram, snapchat, Facebook and more are also contributing factors as everyone loves tanning and an inexpensive way to tan is by the sun. Tanning beds are another factor some people like fake tanning instead of sun tanning and this exposes them to too much ultraviolet radiation.

The social ecological model can support sun safety practices for students by a change of attitude and or belief change. This could include starting to participate in sun safety strategies. Having a change of attitude could make the students want to have more knowledge on sun safety.

The health group could have produced more posters, spoken on assembles and year levels for better advertising. With more time to prepare, it may have been possible to approach business owners to see if we could get sponsors and receive free hats which then allows free advertising for these businesses. The school could’ve had crazy hat days. The group could’ve displayed better teamwork skills and had more time to prepare these marketing strategies. RE-AIM and the social ecological model help improve the strategy by advertising more, participating in crazy hat days, giving out free hats this is because it allows the health class reach individual students. This plan would’ve been effective as the younger grades would’ve wanted to get more involved as there would’ve been prizes (free hats). The businesses sponsoring the free hats would be adoption (community) as they would have been supporting a school function. Producing the day with the speeches and hard work would have been implemented. Maintenance would have been the better team working skills, everyone participating and helping in some way.


It is necessary for DSHS to rethink their sun safety policy and strategies because the policy is meant to be changed every few years and hasn’t been therefore it is old and outdated. The students are clearly not participating in the current sun safety policy so there needs to be a change. The future of DSHS, if the attitude towards sun safety changed would be the teachers and staff leading by example by wearing hats and sunscreen and by implementing this with the students. Overall the health of all students, teachers and staff would be greatly improved from the risk of melanoma (Clift, 2016) and other skin cancers and it would set the students up for great sun safe practices as they go into adulthood.

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Importance Of Sun Safety In Australia. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 27, 2023, from
“Importance Of Sun Safety In Australia.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022,
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Importance Of Sun Safety In Australia [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 17 [cited 2023 Sept 27]. Available from:
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