MP's sun protection proposal

Lifeguards like Jamie Findlay wear long-sleeved shirts to protect them from the sun.
Lifeguards like Jamie Findlay wear long-sleeved shirts to protect them from the sun.

MEMBER for Hinkler Paul Neville has expressed his concern at a proposal to have all state school students wearing compulsory long-sleeved shirts for sun protection.

The proposal has come from independent state Maryborough MP Chris Foley, who has put it to education minister Geoff Wilson as a way of addressing Queensland's unenviable title as the skin cancer capital of the world.

The push comes after a group of parents approached Mr Foley, but it also carries some personal significance - all five of his children have had either sunspots or skin cancers removed.

“More people than anywhere else are diagnosed with skin cancer here and we need to look at new ways to fight it,” he said. “I don't think it's good enough that we're having teenagers presenting to doctors with skin cancers.”

Mr Foley has suggested schools use lightweight microfibre long-sleeved shirts to ensure children do not overheat in the summer months.

But Mr Neville said a policy forcing parents to buy the shirts would be another strain placed on family budgets and would fly in the face of the discretion and common sense of the parents.

“There are families out there who are already struggling to make ends meet and this would be another cost they have to take on,” he said.

“There needs some sort of discretion exercised in issues of this nature because we run the risk of creating a nanny state scenario.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education and Training said there were already a number of measures in place to protect students from the sun, including shaded play areas, provision of sunscreen and sunsmart uniforms including hats.

“All state schools, in consultation with their community, are required to develop and implement a school sun protection strategy, which considers the most practical and effective ways of enhancing sun protection for students,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said decisions about school uniforms were made by individual schools in line with local circumstances and community attitudes.

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