New rules in 2023? This is what you need to know about the changes from New Year’s Day


The beginning of a new year is bringing with it a host of changes. 

New Year’s Day introduces some good news, including savings on childcare, cheaper medicines, help for homeowners who are looking to downsize, plus there is a boost in welfare payments. 

Here’s what else you need to know about what’s changing.

Centrelink payments 

Centrelink payments for many, including carers and students, will have their payments boosted from January 1. 

The payments will by indexed, rising just over 6 per cent.

This means the Youth Allowance rate will go up by at least $19 a fortnight. Austudy will increase by between $32.40 and $41.40 per fortnight, and those under the age of 21 on the Disability Support Pension will receive an extra $27.40 to $40.70 a fortnight.

Lower cost PBS medicines

Multiple packets of colourful pharmaceutical medicines.
From January 1, the maximum cost of a medicine on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will be $30, down from $42.50.(Supplied: Pixabay)

From New Year’s Day, the maximum cost of medicine on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is $30, down from $42.50.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia says it will be the first time in the history of the PBS that the general co-payment for medicines has come down and not gone up.

COVID-19’s PCR tests only available at a GP

From January 1, people seeking a free PCR test must get a referral from a medical practitioner, such as their local GP.

Free PCRs will still be available without a referral at a limited number of state- or territory-operated COVID-19 testing clinics or respiratory clinics, but these clinics may turn away people considered low-risk of COVID-19 complications.

High-risk groups — including the elderly, First Nations people, people with a disability and the immunocompromised — can still access free tests through state testing sites and GP-led respiratory clinics without a GP referral.

Fee-free TAFE scheme introduced

From January 1, the federal and state governments will be handing out 180,000 fee-free TAFE, vocational education and training places. The federal government has contributed $493 million towards the scheme with state and territory governments matching the contribution. 

The places will be held for study areas that have been identified as a ‘national priority’, these include:

  • Care (aged care, childcare, health care and disability care)
  • technology and digital
  • hospitality and tourism
  • construction 
  • agriculture
  • sovereign capability

More subsidised university places

Select people heading to university will also benefit in 2023 as the federal government contributes $485.5 million to provide 20,000 Commonwealth-supported places.

Higher education providers have been allocated places in the following areas:

  • 4,036 places in education
  • 2,600 places in nursing
  • 2,275 in IT
  • 2,740 in health professions
  • 1,738 in engineering

The remaining courses will be offered in other areas of skills shortage.

The places will focus on increasing participation for regional and remote students, those from low socio-economic backgrounds, students with a disability, First Nations students, and those who are first in their family to study at university.

Downsizing your home?

The sun sets on houses in a Ripley housing estate.
Services Australia announced Australians on welfare payments looking to downsize their home can look forward to changes to the assets test from January 1.(ABC News: Rachel Riga)

If you sell your home from January 1 onwards, new rules apply too.

Australians on welfare payments looking to downsize may benefit from changes to the asset and income test coming into effect on January 1.

Services Australia announced people who sell their principal place of residence and use any sale proceeds for their new primary home, will only need to declare the remaining profits.

This applies if you use the funds to buy, build, rebuild, repair or renovate your new principal home.

The changes apply to income support payments, certain allowances, and Low Income Health Care Card holders.

Cheaper childcare in 2023

An unidentifiable girl with pigtails in a classroom.
Some families could save thousands of dollars a year.(ABC News: Elise Pianegonda)

In June, free kinder, pre-prep programs and more childcare were announced as part of Victoria’s $9 billion education reform package. 

Across Victoria, kindergarten will be made free through new subsidies set to come into effect in 2023.

Children enrolled in eligible sessional kinder services will have access to a $2,500 subsidy, while children attending a funded kindergarten program in long-day-care settings will be eligible for a fee reduction of $2,000.

Kindergarten will also be cheaper for many Queensland families from January 2023. Queensland’s scheme will offer 40,000 families free or cheaper kindy. Here’s where you can find out if you’re eligible.

In New South Wales, before and after school-care vouchers will be available. Parents with primary school-aged children will have until the end of January to apply for a $500 voucher to cover the costs of before and after-school care. This includes children who are starting kindergarten in 2023.

The federal government’s childcare plan does not start until July 2023. Child Care Subsidy rates will increase up to 90 per cent for eligible families earning less than $530,000

Mental health subsidy cut from 20 to 10 sessions

Medicare-rebated psychology sessions will fall from a maximum of 20 free sessions to 10 sessions per year.

Health Minister Mark Butler announced in December that patients would only be able to claim Medicare rebates for 10 visits to a psychologist or an allied mental health service from next year.

More mental health help for small business owners

In October, the federal government announced that $15.1 million would be provided to help small business owners access free mental health and financial counselling support. 

The NewAccess for Small Business Owners program is a free, one-on-one mental health coaching program delivered by Beyond Blue. The program provides small business owners with up to six structured sessions via telehealth with a trained mental health coach.

The Small Business Debt Helpline will provide free phone-based support to small business owners nationally.

Both services will kick in on January 1.

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