Skin cancer awareness; encouraging regular skin checks

It is important to take a couple of extra minutes to cover up, put on sunscreen, because fair-skinned people like Peter (Taylor) and myself are very vulnerable to, not only to melanomas that are well-known and other things. Peter’s a great advocate and a champion for this cause, and [indistinct] his former life as a cricketer, spent days and days in the sun, and probably in the tropics, and also all over the world. And, you know, for the last 30 or 40 years, as a farmer.

The message today’s all about covering up.


It is. Thanks, Mark. Look, I’m really honoured that Mark’s lent his support to this campaign. Really, what I’m about here, is just to raise awareness of the importance of getting ourselves checked by the proper people for melanoma, and skin checks generally.

We need to understand that it’s out there; there are three types of serious cancers. They’re all serious if they’re let go. And the best defence we have against this is to get ourselves checked by an expert.

That’s really the take home. We have been bombarded with breast cancer, melanoma, and what we’ve seen in those instances, non-melanoma are killing 1700 people in Australia.

As Mark said, the best thing we can do is get a check.

You know, it’s a very simple message. It’s not rocket science. Get on top of it early and stay on top of it.


First up, Peter how important is it to cover up out here?


Well, Mark- it’s funny, I don’t want to take issue with what Mark said, because he was talking about fair-skin people.

Yes. Fair-skin people, you know, just because you have fair-skin, it might make you a bit more aware of the sun because you get sunburn.

But the truth is, that if you’ve got olive skin, you know, or any type of different type of skin, you still are exposed to the risk of skin cancer. And so, that’s another message, you know, a lot of people think: oh, because I’m not that type of skin, you know. But they are. You know, people are dying just like fair-skin people. And in fact, fair-skin people are probably being more conscious of it, you know, probably are a little bit more protective of their own skin.

So, you know, look, it’s totally important. And every day- I mean, I’ve learned a bit, even since I’ve started this campaign. You know, things like the quality of the shirt and the clothing that you wear, you know, if you wear a light shirt because it’s hot, it’s not doing the job to keep the sun out. You’ve got to find the right materials.

And you know, if you’re spending a lot of time in the sun. Just- you know, that’s just sort of preventative stuff. But for people of our generation, a little bit older, you know, many Australian farmers and people who have, sort of, already had that early part of their life, you know, the answer’s just about getting checks. It really is. But- and it’s totally important. And obviously, if this message gets to the young people now, who feel like they’re a little bit bullet-proof, if you like, you know, because they’re young and too far away from- to worry about that. Well, you know, it’ll happen one day. But, just cover up and look after yourself and get the checks.

Doing what you can, and on a daily basis. It is hard, because if you’re out for long periods, you know, the idea of reapplying sun lotion; I’ve always struggled with that.

Sun lotion is something I’ve always struggled with. But you know, as long as you have a hat, good clothing, long pants if you can do it, I know it’s hot, but you know.

Not have dramas, there’s always dramas with harvest.

You know, we’re going to take our fair share this year, because it’s such a big harvest after a pretty shocking year, a terrible drought.

You know, we’re getting a little bit happier.


This underpins how important agriculture is to our community. That productivity comes from these paddocks, to the whole community, it is immeasurable.

It’s flowing through to the dealers, to the car dealers, to the tyre fitters, everyone.

And it’s also highlighting the issue we’ve got at the moment with skill shortages.

There are ample opportunities for people who’ve come to work in the trades – mechanics and anything like that.

There’s a great opportunity in the bush and I think coronavirus is actually- if there’s a silver lining in that, that’s shown up for the people, is Australia is really the place to be.

And while our capital cities are still suffering the financial impacts of coronavirus, regional Australia is absolutely full steam ahead.


Gentlemen, can I just ask you both of your experiences with skin checks?


Well, probably an annual event for me to have something cut off from so far, nothing [indistinct] but, you know, you need to get those early enough and it’s very important.

A lot of my friends of a similar age are wearing the scars of having larger, you know, cancers cut off, and so, it’s something that I’m certainly aware of.

And so, you know, I’ve been in this job for 13 years. But I was- you know, in the first 50 years of my life, from being a toddler, to when I went into parliament was out in paddocks like this and we didn’t take enough care.

We didn’t even wear shirts, you know, when we were young teenagers in our early 20s. I think our understanding of the dangers have increased a lot. We’re paying the price for it.


I can partly remember when I was playing cricket, we were playing a game in Perth and the Cancer Society was running a promotional day and asking people to come along to the tent.

You know, if you came along to the tent, you might see a few Aussie players getting a skin check. So, we all toggled along there, various times through the day and you know, it just raised my- and they said, well you’ve got a few, and this is when I’m 30.

So, it sort of got me thinking. I can remember one member of the side was told that he better go back immediately and go see a person straight away, because he had more than a few.

And that guy is happily still around, has to watch himself very, very closely. Every time I go. Every time; it’s a very important thing.

Just look on the back of your hands, they just keep coming and coming.

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