Call for more school sun­screen

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS - By Kenji Sato

Vic­to­rian pri­mary schools are top of the class when it comes to pro­tect­ing chil­dren from the sun, but more sun­screen needs to be made avail­able in the class­room ac­cord­ing to a new Sun­Smart sur­vey of schools across the coun­try.

The sur­vey found that Vic­to­ria out­classed other states in en­forc­ing school hat use (100 per cent) and sun pro­tec­tion poli­cies (90 per cent), but were fall­ing be­hind at pro­vid­ing sun­screen in the class­room (34 per cent).

Buck­ing the trend was Co­bram Pri­mary School, which keeps tubs of sun­screen near the class­room doors as part of its Sun­Smart pol­icy.

School prin­ci­pal Matt Knight said he was taught to Slip, Slop, Slap on the sun­screen as a kid, and is keen to pass on that mes­sage to his stu­dents.

‘‘It’s par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant where we live in Co­bram, since we get plenty of sun and of­ten have days above 40 de­grees heat,’’ he said.

‘‘We try to make sure the kids un­der­stand how to take care of their skin. It’s part of our cur­ricu­lum to make sure they un­der­stand the im­por­tance of stray­ing safe.’’

Co­bram Pri­mary School stu­dent Meg Guppy said she ex­pe­ri­enced first-hand the con­se­quences of not wear­ing sun­screen.

‘‘I got sun­burnt re­ally badly once, all down my back,’’ she said.

Stu­dent Spencer Clark said he ‘‘mostly’’ re­mem­bered to wear sun­screen on sunny days, but needed an oc­ca­sional re­minder from his teach­ers.

‘‘They teach us about sun safety and Slip, Slop, Slap,’’ he said.

Sun­screen avail­abil­ity in Vic­to­rian class­rooms dropped from 54 per cent in 2011 to 34 per cent last year.

Sun­Smart Early Child­hood and Pri­mary School co-or­di­na­tor Jus­tine Os­borne said the lack of sun­screen was a black mark on an oth­er­wise pos­i­tive re­port card.

‘‘Vic­to­rian schools are mak­ing a fan­tas­tic con­tri­bu­tion to skin cancer pre­ven­tion in our state, but sun­screen sup­ply is one area where there’s def­i­nitely room for im­prove­ment,’’ Ms Os­borne said.

‘‘The schools are on the right path with their other sun pro­tec­tion prac­tices, and the sup­port is there for sun­screen, but it’s just not be­ing made avail­able.’’

UV lev­els have started to rise de­spite the re­cent cool weather, prompt­ing the Cancer Coun­cil of Vic­to­ria to urge schools and par­ents to stock up on sun­screen well be­fore sum­mer.

‘‘Us­ing sun­screen with a broad­brim hat, cov­er­ing cloth­ing, shade and sun­glasses pro­vides chil­dren with the best level of pro­tec­tion against UV dam­age, which is the ma­jor cause of skin cancer,’’ Ms Os­borne said.

Do­ing the right thing: Co­bram Pri­mary School stu­dents (back row, from left) Chaz Boyd, Meg Guppy, Kitty Nadugu and Spencer Clark; (front) Tully Ryan, Hay­ley Sherwood, Ruby O’Brien, Jack­son Bev­er­ley, Beau Kelly and Faith Long with prin­ci­pal Matt Knight.

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