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The job’s not done until we’re all safe in the sun

When it comes to skin cancer we need to do more to protect all Australians

The job’s not done until we’re all safe in the sun

National Skin Cancer Action Week (21-27 November) highlights that we need to do more to promote sun protection.

2021 marks the fortieth anniversary of the iconic Slip, Slop, Slap campaign with Sid the Seagull yet, Australia still has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, including melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Currently two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70 every year, and around 2000 Australians die from this disease.  

Despite improvements in melanoma rates amongst Australians under the age of 40, skin cancer remains Australia’s most common cancer, the most costly and one of the most preventable. It is estimated that there have been around 20,000 deaths from skin cancer since the last national skin cancer prevention campaign.  

In order to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer, all Australians need to use the five forms of sun protection when the UV level is 3 or higher:  

  • Slip on sun protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible. 
  • Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30 (or higher) sunscreen. Apply 20 minutes before going outdoors and every two hours afterwards.  
  • Slap on a hat – broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears.  
  • Seek shade. 
  • Slide on sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards

Learn more about preventing skin cancer

How to protect your skin from the sun

New data shows that while just over half of Australians (54%) say that sun protection is part of their daily routine in summer, more than a quarter (28%) admit that it isn’t. Young Australians in particular, are less likely to have used sun protection than older adults. 1 in 5 of those aged 18-24 reported that they did not use any sun protection while outdoors compared to 1 in 10 Australians aged 45-64 years old.

There is a real concern that Australians have become more complacent about promoting sun protection. Australia has led the world in prevention campaigns leaving many to believe that "the job's done". However, research shows that sun protective behaviours increase as skin cancer prevention campaign advertising increases and decreases when advertising is absent.

Cancer Council is calling on the Federal Government to invest in a national skin cancer prevention campaign. After more than a decade, it’s time for a significant investment in a campaign to increase awareness about skin cancer risk and support Australians to be SunSmart. 

In order to prevent cancer, Australians need to understand the risks. The time to stop cancer is before it starts and when it comes to skin cancer the job’s not done until we’re all safe in the sun.   

Cancer Council sun safe

Learn more about how to be SunSmart

Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia. Read more about being SunSmart

Downloadable assets

Personal cancer stories

Lana's story


Amy's story


Rachel's story


Sophie's story


Damien's story


Learn more about how to be SunSmart