National SunSmart Early Childhood Program
Since 2004 the Cancer Council's National SunSmart Early Childhood Program has been awarding SunSmart status to all ACT early childhood centres/services that have developed and implemented a comprehensive updated sun protection policy.
The SunSmart Early Childhood program is aimed at:
1) Reducing direct exposure to potentially harmful solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) amongst children and workers;
2) Promoting and encouraging the ongoing maintenance and development of effective shade amongst settings; and
3) Increasing children's (and workers) awareness about skin damage and how to protect their skin and eyes from too much UV.
Correct sun protection practices not only reduces a child’s risk of skin and eye damage but it also ensures they obtain enough vitamin D from the sun to allow for healthy bone development and maintenance. For this reason ACT childhood services are encouraged to implement their service's sun protection policy from the beginning of August through to the end of May, this is when daily UV levels reach 3 and above in Canberra for part of or most of each day are strong enough to damage unprotected skin (and eyes).
SunSmart recommendation: Cancer Council ACT encourages all Canberra childcare services to minimise their outdoor activities and events as much as reasonably practicable between 11am and 3pm during the daylight saving/summer time of the year, this is when UV levels are at their strongest and the risk of potential skin and eye damage is significantly increased.
To view SunSmart resources for ACT early childhood services click here.
Why be awarded a SunSmart status?
Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. With their sensitive skin, young children and babies are at particular risk of sunburn and skin damage. Research reveals that excessive sun exposure during childhood and adolescence is a major risk factor for the development of skin cancer later in life, including melanoma.
Being awarded SunSmart status demonstrates to the wider community that your service (or centre) is committed toward skin cancer prevention and awareness. Your service also remains updated on current sun protection behaviors, strategies and resources. Your service will be assured that it has the most up to date and effective sun protection policy and practices in place.
Being awarded SunSmart status entitles your service to:
- A large metal We are SunSmart sign
- SunSmart Play E-News
- A SunSmart certificate
- Assistance with your policy development
- Access to resources and posters
- A review of your service's SunSmart policy and practices every 3 years
- Special offers
- On-site 1 hour SunSmart Workplace Information sessions for your staff. Just $99 (generally $350 for workplaces)
- And, a huge 20% discount on bulk sunscreen purchases for your service.
Family Day Care Schemes, Playgroup and After School Care
Family day care schemes and after school care services are also invited to participate in the SunSmart program. If your service can provide a comprehensive sun protection policy then it will be recognised as playing an active role toward skin cancer prevention and awareness by receiving:
- A SunSmart certificate
- Access to educational resources and posters
- Advice and recommendations on policy development
- Cancer Council SunSmart E- News.
Cancer Council encourages ALL ACT childcare services to actively participate the SunSmart Program.
Individual Family Day Care Educators can now remain up to date with current SunSmart resources, reminders, news and research and special offers etc by signing up to receive our free E-News throughout the year. To sign up today click here.
Early childhood services are the key to prevention
Centre-based early childhood services, including pre-school, long day care, kindergarten and occasional care, all play a significant role in minimising our children’s time spent in the sun.
Staff can help change behaviour by acting as SunSmart role models and incorporating games and activities around skin protection.
Early childhood services can reduce children's UV radiation exposure and skin cancer risk because:
- children often attend services when daily UV radiation is at its highest
- early childhood is a significant period to promote and encourage healthy life style behaviours
- early childhood services, in partnership with families and their communities, can help reduce UV radiation exposure and change behaviour through policy, education, environment and role modelling
Download Cancer Council Australia's Position Statement: Sun Protection and Infants (currently under review)
Duty of care
Early childhood services, including Family Daycare Schemes have a responsibility to implement skin cancer prevention strategies for children and staff health.
Children: Duty of care refers to the need to protect children against foreseeable harm. Sunburn is a foreseeable outcome of over-exposure to solar UV radiation and there is now evidence linking UV exposure, particularly during childhood and adolescence (but also adulthood) to skin cancer development later in life.
Staff: Occupational UVR Exposure is a serious occupational health and safety hazard for people who spend part or most of their working day outside. Under the new Work Health and Safety Act 2011, all persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for their workers. Similarly, workers have a responsibility to adopt protective measures introduced by their employer to maintain a safe workplace.
Staff can claim sun protection related expenses on their income tax. For more information contact the Australian Taxation Office on 13 2861(employees) or 132866 (for businesses) or visit www.ato.gov.au
Join the SunSmart Early Childhood Program (for ACT services only)
Download a SunSmart Early Childhood Program Application Form and Agreement (for ACT services only). Complete this and post/fax (6257 5055) or email to Cancer Council ACT. You will also be required to email a copy of your service's current sun protection policy in doc format to Cancer Council (the SunSmart Services Coordinator will request this once your SunSmart Application and Agreement has been received).
If you are having difficulty developing a comprehensive sun protection policy for your service then download a Sample Policy for the ACT. You may also choose to read Developing a Sun Protection Policy to assist you with your new policy development. Both these can be found on our SunSmart resources page.
Once you have returned your SunSmart application, agreement and policy, Cancer Council will review your application form and policy then forward a letter outlining any recommendations that will bring your policy up to meet minimal national SunSmart standards.
Update your policy accordingly and return it to CCACT. It is typical for most services to submit their sun protection policy 2 or 3 times before it meets such high national SunSmart standards.
If your policy meets minimal standards then your service will be awarded with a nationally recognised SunSmart status. The SunSmart Services Coordinator will aim to drop of your new metal SunSmart sign, certificate and resources to your service. This is a good opportunity to discuss any other issues regarding sun protection that your service may have with the SunSmart Services Coordinator.
You will also be required to pay a one off joining fee, you will be invoiced $55 (this covers the cost of your new large metal SunSmart sign). Your service's SunSmart status and date for first review can then be viewed online on the SunSmart Early Childhood Program Database (ACT).
Now your service has a recognised SunSmart status- Cancer Council recommends you promote your new policy and commitment amongst staff, parents and carers. It is very important that everyone associated with your service is aware of your new policy and understands that your service is serious about positive SunSmart behavior and attitudes.
As part of your SunSmart Agreement your service has agreed to take part in a SunSmart Policy Review every 3 years. This is an important part of the SunSmart program as it allows your centre/service to report on any strategies that may or may not be working well. It also allows an opportunity for your service to comment on any future plans it may have toward promoting skin cancer prevention and awareness, review SunSmart resources, and to update its current policy if necessary.
Cancer Council ACT has a range of resources available to assist early childhood services in developing and implementing sun protection policies, practices and educational programs. Most resources are available for free download from this website. View resource list.
SunSmart Early Childhood Program Database (ACT)
With a growing number of early childhood services throughout the ACT, it is sometimes difficult to know which services have been recognised with “SunSmart” status and which ones have not. In most cases Canberra childcare services are very diligent when it comes to sun protection behaviour and practices. Some services may only need to make a few minor adjustments to their current sun protection policy in order to receive a nationally recognised SunSmart status for all their efforts and commitment toward skin cancer prevention and awarenes.
Click here to see if your service has a Cancer Council recognised SunSmart status.