DESPITE Queensland having the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, our primary schools are still trailing behind when it comes to providing adequate sun protection to students.
Only 39% of Queensland primary schools surveyed in the latest National SunSmart Schools Program survey identified as SunSmart - a significantly lower proportion when compared to the rest of Australia.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said it was essential for schools to implement SunSmart measures for the long-term health of their students.
"Research shows sun exposure in the first 18 years of life contributes significantly to a person's lifetime risk of skin cancer," Ms Clift said.
"It's vital our primary schools encourage SunSmart behaviour, implement written policies and schedule outdoor activities at appropriate times throughout the day.
"If we help Queensland kids learn to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide - these habits will greatly reduce their risk of skin cancer in the future."
The main barriers preventing a Queensland primary school from joining the National SunSmart Schools Program were lack of information and a lack of time - with a third of schools citing they simply 'didn't get around to applying'.
The majority of the state's non-SunSmart schools did indicate, however, that they intended to join the program within the year, or sometime in the future.
"We've made it easy for schools to get the necessary information about the program, and to apply for SunSmart status online at www.cancerqld.org.au.
"We can assist primary schools in becoming SunSmart, implementing learning programs that educate children about sun protective behaviours and developing a whole school policy.
Primary schools can apply to join the free National SunSmart School Program via the Prevention tab on the Cancer Council Queensland homepage.
Sun protection is required when the UV Index is 3 and above. In Queensland, the UV Index is 3 and above all year round - so Cancer Council Queensland encourages daily sun protection.