Health Promotion Initiatives
National Skin Cancer Awareness Campaign
Skin cancer (both melanoma and non-melanoma) is the most common form of cancer in Australia, causing over 1,600 deaths in 2005. This makes it Australia’s most expensive cancer. Non-melanoma cancers are the most common cancers diagnosed in Australia. Melanoma is less common but is the most life-threatening form of skin cancer. Australia and New Zealand have the highest incidence and mortality rates of melanoma in the world. The risk of developing melanoma before the age of 75 is 1 in 24 for males and 1 in 33 for females. Melanoma is the most common cancer in the 15-24 year old age group, 8 in 227 young Australians in that age group were diagnosed with melanoma in 2004 (statistics from Australian Health reports 2008 (AIHW) reports). From these facts you can see why Cancer (which the most common form in Australia is Skin Cancer) has been included in the 7 National Health Priority areas. To help reduce the incidences of skin cancer in Australia the Australian Government has set up a National Skin Cancer Awareness Campaign.
i) the aim of the progamme
There are various skin cancer prevention campaigns. The campaigns have been committed to continuing to educate Australians about the importance of protecting ourselves from skin cancer. Phase 2 of the National Skin Cancer awareness campaign aims to capture the attention of young Australians and increase their awareness of skin cancer risk through sun exposure. It also promotes the adoption of multiple sun protection behaviours as normal and socially acceptable behaviour. Finally the campaign also aims to increase young Australians awareness of the seriousness of developing skin cancer. The campaign was set up, not just to create awareness but to emphasise on the prevention which remains the single most effective way to save lives and reduce costs to the Australian health system. Given the high incidence and the personal and economic costs associated with skin cancers, a strong emphasis on prevention is needed to reduce any unnecessary exposure to ultraviolet rays.
ii) target populations
The primary target population for the campaign is teenagers 13-17 of age and young adults 18-24 years of age. The youth target audiences have been selected on the basis that they have the worst sun protection behaviours and the highest frequency of sunburn. Additionally, teenagers also perceive a tan as making them look more beautiful so consequently they feel more pressured to get out there in the sun to get the tan they long for forgetting about the harmful consequences. The campaign also targets parents/carers of children 0-17 years of age so they can educate their children on the risks of sun exposure and how to minimize the damage to their skin. Through the evaluation of the campaign the overall results indicate that it has been effective, particularly among teenagers.
There are a list of campaign materials which the National skin cancer Awareness Campaign uses to reinforce the message of the risks and consequences of sun exposure and inadequate protection. These materials are shown in forms of television commercials and announcements, print advertisements in various areas such as on the back of buses and radio commercials. There is one 30 and two 15 second television commercials consisting of a melanoma surgeon talking about a girl called Tanya who was diagnosed with skin cancer and thought that it was just about removing a mole. But what she didn’t realize is that it’s much more than that. The surgeon concludes on warning Australians to protect themselves from the sun. Additionally there is a community service announcement with two Home and Away actors which emphasise the importance of protecting yourself from the sun. This announcement is one of the best media releases because it uses celebrities which gives the perception that they too protect themselves from...
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