Only 1-in-2 kids use sunscreen: Frightening figures trigger urgent sun safety warning

SUMMER has officially arrived but scorching new figures show the sun safety message just isn’t sinking in, with half of all Queenslanders still getting sunburnt every year.

The Health of Queenslanders 2018 report revealed that only one in two children and one in five adults used daily sun protection and that 54 percent of adults and 46 percent of children were sunburnt in the previous 12 months.

Given Queensland has the among highest rates of skin cancer in the world, the figures are frightening. Around 3600 melanoma and 343,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed across the sunshine state each year.


Sun protection is required when the ultraviolent (UV) index is 3 and above, which is all year round in Queensland, and can even be from as early as 7.20am in summer.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said it was crucial for Queenslanders to protect themselves from the sun at all times.

“What many people don’t realise is that skin damage can occur in as little as 10 to 15 minutes – even on cold or overcast days,” Ms McMillan said.

“Getting sunburnt doesn’t just occur during a full day at the beach either – people are often burnt unexpectedly at sports games, gardening at home or having a barbeque.”

Federal Minister and Gold Coast MP Karen Andrews reiterated the importance of sun safety, after her husband was recently diagnosed with a stage two melanoma in his leg.

“It was so unexpected that my husband would have any sort of a skin cancer. He has six-monthly skin checks, so in the space of that time he had developed a stage two melanoma,” Minister Andrews said.

“The message from my family to all families and individuals on the Gold Coast and in Queensland is be forever vigilant and see your general practitioner if you notice any changes.

“It’s particularly important for us as we head into summer to reinforce the message that it’s ultraviolet radiation that is the major cause of skin cancer. It doesn’t need to be hot or sunny – UV can’t be seen or felt.”

Ms McMillan urged all Queenslanders to reduce their risk of skin cancer by following all five sun protective recommendations.

“We know from The Health of Queenslanders 2018 report that only 22 per cent of adults and 47 per cent of children wore a broad-brimmed hat, long sleeves and long pants or skirts and used SPF 30 or higher sunscreen for sun protection in summer,” Ms McMillan said.

“Sunscreen on its own or a good hat alone isn’t enough – we need to make the effort to do all we can to reduce our skin cancer risk.

“Slip on protective clothing, Slop on minimum SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on wrap-around sunglasses when out and about.”

Cancer Council’s SunSmart app allows people to track UV levels in real time, with advice on applying sunscreen and myth-busting information, and is available in app stores for free, or online via

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at or by calling the Cancer Council hotline on 13 11 20.