The number of eligible Brimbank early childhood services participating in the SunSmart program has fallen below the state average.
Across Victoria, 86 per cent of eligible early childhood services – including childcare centres, family day care and preschools – are members of the program.
In Brimbank, the rate is 70 per cent.
SunSmart schools and early childhood program co-ordinator Justine Osborne said it was vital schools and early childhood centres kept to the SunSmart agenda.
“Not only do most children attend early childhood services during peak UV times, they’re also at a time in their life when UV damage is most significant for determining future skin cancer risk,” she said.
“We know the powerful effect that early education can have, as we’re seeing falling melanoma rates in those aged under 40 years who grew up with the original ‘Slip! Slop! Slap!’ campaign.
“Now that the SunSmart generation is growing up and having children of their own, we want to make sure the message is being passed down.”
Kealba Kindergarten is a strong supporter of the program, with teacher Emma Kay saying it’s about instilling good habits in children from a young age.
“Last year, we decided to really push the SunSmart message,” Ms Kay said.
“When our children come in, their parents apply sunscreen to them.
“Clothing also plays a big part. We ensure the children are wearing hats and clothing that covers them when out in the sun.”
The kindergarten has a very personal reason for wanting to push the message.
“We actually had a member of staff discover a melanoma a little while back,” Ms Kay
“If we can educate the children now, it’ll set them up for life.”