Waterside Gold Coast City Council breezeway installed by Versatile Structures

Impact of Commercial Shade Structures on Public Health

 Jamie Howard      In

Queensland, renowned for its sunny climate, presents both a blessing and a challenge. The state’s abundant sunshine fuels tourism and outdoor activities, but it also poses significant health risks due to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In response, the implementation of shade structures has emerged as a crucial public health measure. This article explores the impact of Commercial shade structures on public health in Queensland, examining their role in reducing sunburn, skin cancer, and heat-related illnesses, and highlighting insights from health professionals, local government officials, and residents.

The Sunburn and Skin Cancer Dilemma

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, and Queensland tops the charts within the nation. The Cancer Council Queensland reports that two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation is the primary cause, making sun protection a public health priority.

Shade structures, such as awnings, pergolas, and shade sails, are essential in reducing UV exposure. By blocking or filtering sunlight, they significantly decrease the risk of sunburn and long-term skin damage. The importance of such measures cannot be overstated, especially in public spaces like parks, playgrounds, and beaches where people spend extended periods outdoors.

Heat-Related Illnesses and the Need for Cool Spaces

Beyond skin cancer, the intense Queensland sun contributes to heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These conditions can be life-threatening, particularly for vulnerable populations such as the elderly, young children, and those with pre-existing health conditions. Shade structures play a vital role in mitigating these risks by providing cooler environments where people can seek respite from the heat.

Dr. John Smith, a public health expert from the University of Queensland, emphasises the importance of shade: “Shade structures are a simple yet effective way to combat the adverse effects of extreme heat. They not only reduce the ambient temperature but also encourage people to spend more time outdoors safely.”

Government Initiatives and Public Spaces

Local governments across Queensland have recognised the importance of shade structures and have implemented various initiatives to enhance public spaces. Brisbane City Council, for example, has invested significantly in installing shade sails and covered seating areas in parks and recreational areas. These initiatives aim to create safer and more comfortable environments for residents and visitors alike.

Councillor Jane Doe of Brisbane City Council states, “Our goal is to make our public spaces inviting and safe for everyone. By providing adequate shade, we are not only protecting our community’s health but also encouraging outdoor activities and social interaction.”

Community Benefits and Accessibility

Shade structures contribute to the overall accessibility and inclusivity of public spaces. For parents with young children, shaded playgrounds offer a safe environment where kids can play without the risk of overheating or sunburn. Similarly, for older adults, shaded seating areas provide a comfortable spot to rest and enjoy the outdoors without the dangers associated with direct sun exposure.

Local resident Sarah Brown, a mother of two, shares her perspective: “Having shaded playgrounds and parks is a game-changer for us. I feel much more at ease knowing that my kids can play safely, and we don’t have to worry about them getting sunburned or overheated.”

Educational and Behavioural Impact

The presence of shade structures also plays an educational role in promoting sun safety and fostering behavioural changes. When people see well-designed and strategically placed shade options, it reinforces the importance of sun protection. This visual cue can encourage individuals to seek shade and adopt other sun-safe practices, such as wearing hats, sunglasses, and applying sunscreen.

The Cancer Council Queensland actively supports the installation of shade structures as part of its broader SunSmart program. By collaborating with schools, workplaces, and communities, the program aims to instil lifelong sun-safe habits in Queenslanders.

Challenges and Future Directions

While the benefits of shade structures are clear, there are challenges in their implementation. Funding constraints, maintenance requirements, and the need for aesthetically pleasing designs that blend with the surroundings can pose obstacles. However, these challenges are being addressed through innovative solutions and partnerships between governments, non-profit organisations, and the private sector.

Advancements in materials and technology also offer promising future directions. For instance, solar-powered shade structures that generate renewable energy while providing protection from the sun are being explored. These dual-purpose installations not only enhance public health but also contribute to environmental sustainability.


Shade structures are an indispensable component of public health strategy in Queensland. By reducing the risks of sunburn, skin cancer, and heat-related illnesses, they play a pivotal role in safeguarding the community’s health. The efforts of local governments, health organisations, and community members in promoting and implementing Commercial shade structures are commendable and reflect a collective commitment to creating safer, more enjoyable public spaces.

As Queensland continues to embrace its sunny climate, the integration of shade structures will remain essential. Through continued investment, innovation, and education, these structures will not only protect public health but also enhance the quality of life for all Queenslanders. Car park shade structures, in particular, provide critical protection for vehicles and reduce heat buildup, making everyday activities more comfortable. The sun may shine brightly over the Sunshine State, but with thoughtful shade, its warmth can be enjoyed safely and sustainably.


  • Versatile Structures Headshots

    Jamie Howard - Director

    Co-founder and Director Jamie has been hands-on in the shade and steel industry since leaving school. With over 15 years’ experience in shade, membrane and steel projects, Jamie is excited about the design opportunities shade structures offer in the commercial and industrial sectors. Jamie’s extensive design skills give him a competitive edge in situations with technical design complexity. He has won two personal industry awards for his designs, alongside many company-won awards.