As 2021 draws to a close, a few changes including new policies and laws have been set for the new year that will impact Australians.

From new regulations to increasing Centrelink payments, January will see several changes implemented across the country.

Here are some of the main changes.

Payments to increase

Payments will be increased for allowances for young people, students and carers from January 1 after the indexation rate is raised to 3.5%.

The youth allowance will increase from $ 17.90 per fortnight to $ 537.40, while for those aged 18 and over living at home, it will be increased by $ 12.40, bringing their bi-monthly payment to $ 371.60.

Image of the Centrelink file. Credit: Daria nipot/Getty Images / iStockphoto

Older students on Austudy will receive a bimonthly boost of $ 17.90, raising payments to $ 537.40.

Single parents with children will receive an additional $ 23 bi-weekly, bringing these payments to $ 688.20 bi-weekly.

States ban single-use plastic

Several Australian states will also implement single-use plastic bans in 2022.

New South Wales will ban lightweight plastic bags with a thickness of 35 microns or less from June 1.

Other items such as single-use plastic straws, cutlery, plates and bowls, stirrers and cotton swabs will then be banned in NSW from November 1.

STOCK PROHIBITED SINGLE-USE PASTIC BAG
Single-use plastic bags. Credit: PAA

South Australia will ban polystyrene food and drink containers as well as oxo-degradable plastics from March 1 for companies able to find suitable alternatives.

The Australian Capital Territory is also planning to ban straws, barrier bags for fruits and vegetables, cotton swab sticks and degradable plastics from July 1.

Western Australia also plans to ban plastic items by the end of the year, while residents of Queensland are encouraged to give their views on future bans.

New mental health tax in Victoria

Starting January 1, some Victorian businesses will be hit by a new mental health tax in Victoria.

Victoria businesses with a national payroll of over $ 10 million per year will face a payroll surtax on the Victorian share of wages of 0.5% above a certain threshold from the 1st January.

Companies with a payroll over $ 100 million will also pay 0.5% more.

The money will go to mental health services and other Royal Commission recommendations.

Children eligible for COVID vaccines

The Australian medical regulator has approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11.

Vaccines for the age group will start from January 10, but parents can make an appointment now through the Vaccination clinic search.

Lt. Gen. John Frewen told a Senate COVID-19 committee earlier in the month that all 2.3 million children in the age group would be able to receive the vaccine by the start of the first trimester school.

COVID-19 Task Force Commander Lt. Gen. John Frewen
The chief of immunization, Lt. Gen. John Frewen, said children will receive their vaccines before school starts in 2022. Credit: PAA

“We believe that we will have sufficient supplies at the start of the new year to cover the entire cohort,” he said.

“We are working with states and territories on provisions in place, like school vaccines, but for now, we will have the capacity to have the entire cohort assayed at the start of the new year.”

New Dog Collar Laws For Queensland

From January 1, regulated dogs in Queensland, including restricted breeds, dogs declared dangerous and threatening dogs, will be required to wear a distinctive collar with reflective stripes.

Agriculture Industry Development and Fisheries Minister and Rural Communities Minister Mark Furner said dogs currently regulated must wear a distinctive collar, but appearance was not specified and there were inconsistencies between different areas of local government.

Regulated Queensland dogs, including Restricted Breeds, Dogs Declared Dangerous, and Threatening Dogs Declared, will be required to wear a distinctive collar with reflective stripes.
Regulated Queensland dogs, including Restricted Breeds, Dogs Declared Dangerous, and Threatening Dogs Declared, will be required to wear a distinctive collar with reflective stripes. Credit: QLD Government Website

“From January 1, 2022, all regulated dogs in Queensland are required to wear a collar with red and yellow reflective stripes,” Mr Furner said.

“We want the same necklace worn everywhere, so we all know what to look out for. “