Skin cancer prevention efforts in Australia are delivered by a wide range of organisations operating at national, state, regional and local levels. The government and community sectors have led a number of interventions to reduce the impact of skin cancer in Australia, dating back to the 1970s when Cancer Councils sought to raise awareness about the disease. Skin cancer prevention has mainly focused on increasing awareness on reducing skin cancer risk and advocating for environmental and legislative change. Evidence shows that a wide range of measures can be effective in multiple settings.
After more than 30 years of work, Australia is recognised as having the most extensive, comprehensive and longest-lasting skin cancer prevention programs in the world. Many programs have been based on and modified by extensive research and evaluation.
Australian government commitment
In 2005, the Australian Commonwealth Government committed $5.5 million over two years to fund a national mass media campaign to educate Australians about the importance of sun protection. In 2007, an additional $11.5 million was committed to a second campaign. However, there has been no significant investment in skin cancer prevention at the national level since 2007.
State and territory government initiatives
Skin cancer prevention has been aided by the ban on solariums by state and territory governments(Gordon, 2020). Commercial solariums are banned in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia. There are no commercial solariums operating in the Northern Territory.
All Australian states and territories have legislated Occupational Health and Safety Acts. These laws require employers to implement policies that minimise or eliminate health risks in the workplace including UV exposure.
All state and territory governments have policies to guide primary schools in the implementation of sun protection to support student welfare. The policies aim to create sun safe environments and encourage sun protection behaviours in order to protect students from excess UV exposure. The policies align with Cancer Council’s SunSmart Program.
- Montague M, Borland R, Sinclair C. Slip! Slop! Slap! and SunSmart, 1980-2000: Skin cancer control and 20 years of population-based campaigning. Health Educ Behav 2001 Jun 1;28(3):290-305 Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11380050.
- Department of Health. Health Fact Sheet 1 – Investing in Australia’s health: Strengthening Cancer Care. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2005 [cited 2020 Sep 10] Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/budget/publishing.nsf/Content/health-budget2005-hbudget-hfact1.htm.
- Department of Health. Skin cancer awareness campaign - Continuation of funding. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2007 [cited 2020 Sep 10] Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/budget/publishing.nsf/Content/budget2007-hfact33.htm.
- Gordon LG, Sinclair C, Cleaves N, Makin JK, Rodriguez-Acevedo AJ, Green AC. Consequences of banning commercial solaria in 2016 in Australia. Health Policy 2020 Jun;124(6):665-670 Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32471761.