A number of changes come into force for the new year in Australia affecting those who already live in the country and those planning to move in 2018.

One of the biggest changes for people who want to move to Australia to work in 2018 relates to visas with the popular 457 visa stream ceasing to exist in March.

Visa Application


It will be replaced by two new visas, one for two years whose holders will not be eligible to apply for permanent residency and one for four years under the new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) programme.

The changes also mean that from March 2018, current 457 visa holders won't be able to apply for permanent residency under the Direct and Employer Nominated Transition Streams if their occupation is not on the long and medium term occupation lists.

For this group of visa holders who are on the occupation list they will only be able to apply for permanent residency once they have worked for the nominating employer for a period of three years and the age limit is being reduced from 50 to 45.

However, it has left many 457 visa holders in limbo as the date when the changes are being introduced has not been finalised and a lot of the detail is yet to be made public. More details are expected in the coming weeks.

From next week same sex partners can apply for Partner visas, subclasses 100, 309, 801 and 820, and a Prospective Marriage visa subclass 300. Under the changes those in a same sex relationship with a genuine intention to marry their partner in Australia can apply for the Prospective Marriage visa.

There are also a number of changes being introduced that affect everyday living in Australia, including the cost of travel and health and new measures affecting child care and housing.

Road tolls are rising in many areas including in the states of Victoria and New South Wales, making travelling more costly during the week. The rises will also affect those going to and from airports.

From February 2018, codeine medicines such as Nurofen Plus, Panadeine, Mersyndol and Codral become available only by prescription. Pain Australia has urged people who rely on these medicines to speak with their doctor to find alternatives.

New incentives will be introduced from July 2018 to encourage older homes owners, those aged 65 and over to downsize to free up family sixed homes for those with families.

Also from July parents get access to a New Child Care Package. A new Child Care Subsidy (CCS) will replace the current Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate and is designed to be simpler than the current multi-payment system.

The aim is to offer more help to low and middle income families. To be eligible to receive CCS for a child, the child must be aged 13 years or under and not attending secondary school. The child also must meet immunisation requirements and the parent or carer must meet residency requirements.
Single use plastic bags will be scrapped by a number of major retailers, including Woolworths and Coles in 2018. Woolworths revealed it would begin phasing out the bags in supermarkets, Big W and BWS stores, with a total ban in place by the end of June 2018.

Western Australia will be plastic ban-free from July 2018 and Victoria plans to set a date for its own plastic bag ban in 2018. It means that New South Wales is now the only state in Australia that has not taken action to ban or reduce the presence of supermarket plastic bags.