School-age children and those with dental needs will benefit from two separate federal government programs due to start in the new year.
Kids with bad teeth are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of two federal government programs focused on children starting in the new year.
A new schools funding system begins in 2014 and will pump hundreds of millions into schools and their more than three million students around the country.
The federal government has pledged an extra $2.8 billion in total over the next four years, although the individual state allocations are still being finalised.
From January 1, a $4.1 billion dental benefits scheme aims to improve the oral health of children aged two to 18 years and adults on low incomes. The scheme is to run for six years.
Parents will be able to access Medicare payments capped at $1000 over two years for a wider range of specific services, from basic dental check-ups and cleaning through to emergency care.
Previously, eligible persons could get money back from the government to help pay for only a single dental check-up each year.
The new package will cover 3.4 million children and one million adults.
Elsewhere, federal parliamentarians will face a crackdown on expenses rorting when a new system comes into force after a number were this year forced to pay back travel expenses.
From January 1, MPs and senators required to repay claims found to be ineligible will be hit with a “significant financial penalty” worth 25 per cent of their claim.
Repeat offenders and their offices will receive mandatory training on expenses rules.
In the workplace, victims of office bullying will be able to take their cases to the Fair Work Commission, which can hold mediations and has new powers to make orders to prevent bullying.
But it won’t have the power to order compensation.
Some 2000 of Tasmania’s unemployed are set to benefit from the federal coalition government’s Apple Isle jobs program, after it was brought forward by six months to Wednesday.
Businesses in Tasmania, which suffers from high unemployement and little economic growth, will be in line for one-off payments of $3250 if they hire a job seeker for at least six months’ full-time work.
There’s also potential for lower grocery prices from January 1, after retailing giants Coles and Woolworths agreed to stop funding fuel discounts through their supermarket divisions.
Future fuel discounts will be covered by their fuel retailing businesses, after an agreement was reached this year with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
There would have been more federal changes from January 1, but these have been held up in the Senate where the legislation is still being examined.
These include plans to halt tax benefits for families whose teenage children have finished school, tighten pension eligibility criteria for Australians living overseas and replace student tertiary “start-up” scholarships with loans.