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Surf Life Saving’s new partnership takes on fight against melanoma

Surf Life Saving and Melanoma Institute Australia have announced a new strategic partnership that will see the two organisations advance the fight on our beaches against deadly melanoma, ‘Australia’s national cancer’.

Surf Life Saving Australia President, Graham Ford, welcomed Melanoma Institute Australia’s involvement with Surf Life Saving in providing important sun protection education and awareness about melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer.

The partnership will see the expansion of Surf Life Saving’s public education and safety programs for sun safety.  A Melanoma Institute world-leading medical specialist will also join Surf Life Saving Australia’s national medical advisory Board to expand the movement’s specialist knowledge in melanoma.

“Surf Life Saving is extremely happy to partner with Melanoma Institute Australia in this community-wide program, to help educate and protect the dedicated, volunteer surf lifesavers patrolling our beaches and the millions of visitors to Australia’s beaches each year. The partnership will include wide ranging education about melanoma, and how to detect and prevent it through our volunteers, nipper programs, clubs and events,” said Mr Ford.

“Melanoma Institute’s world-leading expertise will be invaluable for sun safety education. Our aim is to make sure beachgoers are aware of the dangers of the harsh Australian sun and know how to protect themselves. We want people to feel safe at our beaches, not only in the water, but also on the sand where they are greatly exposed to the sun,” he continued.

There are over 44,000 patrolling surf lifesavers around Australia and 100 million visits to our beaches every year.

Melanoma Institute Australia’s Chairman, Reg Richardson AM, said, “We look forward to working closely with Surf Life Saving in making sure the entire beach is covered when it comes to safety and education. We welcome Surf Life Saving’s commitment to champion the sun safe message and the fight against melanoma. Surf Life Saving is an iconic Australian organisation and we will be working closely together to help prevent this deadly disease through wider education.”

“Not many people are aware that melanoma is a young person’s cancer and that it is largely preventable. We want to encourage everyone to protect themselves from the sun’s potentially harmful UV rays and still enjoy a day at the beach,” said Mr Richardson. 

Melanoma is the most common cancer in people aged 15-44 years. Australia has by far the highest incidence rate for melanoma in the world and melanoma is often referred to as ‘Australia’s national cancer’. Over 11,000 new cases are diagnosed each year and the numbers are increasing. Over 1,200 Australians die of melanoma every year.

Melanoma is the third most common form of cancer in Australian men and women overall. Around one in 14 Australian men and one in 24 Australian women will be diagnosed with melanoma by age 85.

Melanoma represents approximately 2.3% of all skin cancer however it is responsible for 76% of all skin cancer deaths in Australia.

Cumulative exposure to ultraviolet radiation over years, especially for young people, even without sunburn, can result in skin damage and increase the risk of getting skin cancer.

In partnership with Surf Life Saving, Melanoma Institute Australia will educate beach goers on sun protection through a range of proactive initiatives which will also include the key messages:

·         Seek shade to avoid exposure to the sun during the hottest part of the day (11am-3pm).  Remember that the reflection of UV radiation from surfaces like sand and water causes you to burn, even if you think you are protected. Use sun shelters or shade such as umbrellas and beach tents whenever possible.

·         Wear sun-protective clothing that covers as much of your body as possible.

·         Wear a broad-brimmed hat that covers your face and neck (caps do not provide adequate protection from the sun).

·         Wear wrap-around sunglasses.

·         Apply SPF30+ broad spectrum water resistant sunscreen 20 minutes before going out into the sun. Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or exercising. 

By consistently following these five simple steps, all Australians can reduce the incidence of melanoma.

Surf Life Saving has over 158,000 members. Each year surf lifesavers perform more than 12,000 rescues while patrolling over 400 beaches nationwide.



Melanoma Institute Australia is a global leader in melanoma research, treatment and education. The Institute is dedicated to preventing and finding a cure for melanoma. Melanoma Institute Australia relies on the generosity of individuals, organisations and government funding to continue its important work into this potentially devastating cancer, of which there is still no known cure.

Melanoma Institute Australia evolved from the Sydney Melanoma Unit. It was established as an independent charity in 2007 following a large philanthropic donation by Mr Greg Poche AO. The Institute is affiliated with The University of Sydney and St Vincents & Mater Health Sydney.

Surf Life Saving is Australia's major water safety, drowning prevention and rescue authority. Surf Life Saving creates a safe environment on Australia's beaches and coastline through patrols, education and training, public safety campaigns and the promotion of health and fitness.

With 158,806 members and 310 affiliated surf life saving clubs, Surf Life Saving is the largest volunteer movement of its kind in Australia.