Sun protection behaviours in adults

Why this indicator is important

Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.1

Skin cancers can be:

  • melanomas
  • squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs)
  • basal cell carcinomas (BCCs).

SCCs and BCCs are often grouped together as non-melanoma skin cancers.

Skin cancer is a highly preventable cancer. At least 95% of melanoma skin cancers, and 99% of non-melanoma skin cancers are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.2

The NSW Skin Cancer Prevention Strategy brings government, non-government and community organisations together to:

  • increase the use of sun protection policies and guidelines
  • improve access to adequate shade
  • increase the use of sun protection behaviours.

Progress is being made in each of these areas.

About this indicator

This indicator relates to adults (18 years and over) in NSW who reported adoption of sun-safe behaviours.

  • In 2018, sun protective behaviours varied among the adult population in NSW. The proportion of adults that always or often used shade, clothing and hat for sun protection when outside for more than 15 minutes increased between 2016 and 2018.
  • In 2018, the proportion of adults in NSW who had access to shade while outdoors varied across different public spaces. Around 80% of people had access to shade at public parks, 73% of people had access to shade at public pools, and 65% of people had access to shade at sporting areas.

Proportion of adults who always or often used sun protection when out in the sun for more than 15 minutes, NSW, 2016 and 2018

N = Number of survey respondents.


  1. Data source: NSW Population Health Survey 2016 (Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, NSW Ministry of Health).
  2. This data from the Population Health Survey is based on self reported behaviour.


  1. International Agency for Research on Cancer. Estimated number of new cases in 2018, melanoma of skin, both sexes, all ages [Internet]. Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer Today 2018 [20 June 2019]. Available at: https://gco. (accessed 14 February 2020).
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Skin Cancer in Australia. Cat. No. CAN 96. Canberra: AIHW, 2016.