New warning as Aussie parents still ‘want a tan’

An alarming one in four young parents admit they get sunburnt on a summer weekend and almost half say they like to get a tan, a new survey shows.

The generation that grew up with the famous 'Slip, Slop, Slap' jingle and Sid the Seagull have forgotten the message as they bring up their own children and could be putting them at risk.

Over 16,000 Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma this year and Cancer Australia predicts melanoma will climb from being our fourth to our third most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2020.

After being contacted by News Corp about the omission of skin cancer from the preventive health strategy a spokesman for Health Minister Greg Hunt said:

"The Minister has committed that skin cancer will be a fundamental part of the Government's final strategy".

The experts fear Aussies are slacking off on being sun smart because it's been over a decade since we've had a large scale national skin cancer prevention campaign.

That's why the Cancer Council is calling on the federal government to invest $10 million a year over the next two years in a national skin cancer prevention campaign.

 

Parents of young kids aren’t being sun smart. Picture: Supplied
Parents of young kids aren’t being sun smart. Picture: Supplied


As summer arrives the Council will today launch a new skin cancer awareness campaign urging today's parents to go retro and take themselves back to the messages they learnt in the 1980s.

"It's the same sun. Now more than ever, it's important to protect your skin and to engage in sun protection behaviours that we know help to prevent skin cancer," Cancer Council Australia Acting CEO Megan Varlow said.

The lack of sun smart behaviour in the 25-44 age group is concerning because many are parents of young children.

"The way they protect themselves can reinforce good behaviours for the next generation," Ms Varlow said.

The Weaving family, Beth (7) and Elva (3) do what they can to protect themselves against avoiding skin cancer. Picture: Tony Gough
The Weaving family, Beth (7) and Elva (3) do what they can to protect themselves against avoiding skin cancer. Picture: Tony Gough

Reservoir mum of three Jenny ­Salole from Victoria, said it could be difficult at times to teach her children, Angus, 14, Beth, 7, and Elva, 3, to be sun smart, but she and partner Shane Weaving did everything they could to keep them safe outside.

"We have talked to our kids about the risks of cancer and we always wear sunscreen," she said.

Ms Salole said every parent should make sun safety a priority, though her family has had first-hand experience with the impacts of sun exposure.

"My partner's family grew up not knowing how important it was to be careful in the sun, and now some of his relatives have had to have skin cancers removed," she said.

What frustrates the Cancer Council is that 95 to 99 per cent of skin cancer is preventable if proper sun protection rules - wearing a hat, covering your skin and using sunscreen - are followed while outdoors.

Research has found large scale public skin cancer prevention campaigns save nearly $4 for every $1 invested.

The last such campaign, run between 2006 and 2013, resulted in an estimated 13,174 fewer skin cancers and averted 112 deaths in NSW alone, research found.

"This is a national problem; it has to be a national response and we'd want all Australians to be hearing the message," Ms Varlow said.

Emma Thurlow and her kids Lachlan 8 and Hugh 6. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Emma Thurlow and her kids Lachlan 8 and Hugh 6. Picture: Tim Hunter.


Emma Thurlow knows first hand the importance of sun protection after having two melanomas removed in recent years.

The Sydney newsagent and mother of two says her mother has also had lower grade skin cancers removed and she is keen to model sun protection behaviours for her two sons Lachlan and Hugh.

"When they're playing outside they have a hat on. At school bucket hats are compulsory," the 41 year old, who lives near the beach, said.

"I definitely think that me having a melanoma taken off a couple of years ago and then having another one earlier this year, it was a bit of a wake up call to some of my friends," Ms Thurlow said.

She is keen to see a new national skin cancer awareness campaign.

"My kids think television commercials are hilarious because they're at an age where they're not annoyed by them. So if I saw, you know, a great ad that encouraged them to be sun smart, absolutely they'd love that," she said.

Originally published as New warning as Aussie parents still 'want a tan'


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