Competing at the annual branch titles at Lennox Head are (from left) Mahli Borham and Saskia Dyer, both of Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club, Emily Hurt of Cudgen, and Tara Meaney and Norika Wright, both of Ballina Lighthouse.
Competing at the annual branch titles at Lennox Head are (from left) Mahli Borham and Saskia Dyer, both of Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club, Emily Hurt of Cudgen, and Tara Meaney and Norika Wright, both of Ballina Lighthouse. David Nielsen

Lifesavers to be sun smart

THE iconic image of a bronzed surf lifesaver is under threat.

In an effort to save young lives from skin cancer, a campaign is under way to have surf lifesavers protected from the sun during surf competitions.

Lennox Head-Alstonville Surf Life Saving Club president Wayne Jones spoke about the push yesterday as his club hosted more than 500 young Nippers competing in the Far North Coast Branch titles.

“The reality is the North Coast is the melanoma capital of the world,” he said.

“Studies clearly show it is the repeated exposure of children at a young age that promotes the onset of skin cancers such as melanoma.

“It would be negligent of us as an organisation and as parents if we don’t implement a greater focus on sun safety for all our children.”

Figures from the Cancer Council of NSW, revealed by The Northern Star last November, showed the North Coast had an unenviable record as the skin cancer capital of the world.

There are 74 melanoma incidents per 100,000 people each year in the region, compared with the State average of 48 incidents per 100,000.

In light of these figures, Mr Jones said his club had contacted Surf Life Saving Far North Coast with a draft policy to tighten the rules for lifesavers competing in carnivals.

Mr Jones said oneoption for reducing skin cancer risk was to compel young competitors to cover up until they hit the water, or risk missing their events.

“If children are turned away from an event because they’re not marshalling with hats and shirts, that will quickly change their behaviour,” he said.

Mr Jones said he was hopeful the new rules could be implemented for next summer.

Annie Lewis was at Lennox Head watching her daughter Conor compete yesterday.

She agreed with the Lennox club’s push to protect its members from the effects of the sun, and was hopeful her own messages to Conor would have an impact.

“I like to think the messages I drum into them today they will hold on to,” she said.

It seems to have worked with 13-year-old Conor, who said she was happy to slip, slop, and slap down on the beach.

“It’s not a hassle and will save us later on,” she said.

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