Fee-free TAFE and 60-day prescriptions



Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle—Deputy Speaker) (10:50): Kahlia is a Newcastle small-business owner—a beauty therapist and mother of three. Thanks to fee-free TAFE, Kahlia is now nine months into her certificate IV in assessment and training. This course will enable her to achieve her goal of being a vocational education and training beauty teacher. Kahlia told me that with three kids, including one with special needs, she doesn't have a lot of free time on her hands, but the flexibility offered by an online free TAFE course, and not having to worry about that cost, has allowed her to back herself in, take a leap and finally do that course.

Kahlia is one of many Newcastle women who have generously shared with me their stories of forging new career paths thanks to fee-free TAFE. The Commonwealth, states and territories fee-free TAFE initiative is continuing to exceed targets, removing financial barriers so that more Australians can learn new skills in areas where the economy needs them most. National data has shown that women make up 62 per cent of TAFE enrolments. Students from regional and remote areas make up more than 66 per cent of total enrolments; 23 per cent were jobseekers, eight per cent were people with a disability and seven per cent were First Nations people. In total, over 355,000 Australians enrolled in fee-free TAFE across Australia during 2023, smashing that initial first target of 180,000. This included 182,124 students in New South Wales. And fee-free TAFE is not going anywhere! The Albanese Labor government is providing a further $414.1 million to the states and territories over the 2024-26 period to fund delivery of at least another 300,000 fee-free TAFE places. It's just one example of the targeted cost-of-living relief we're delivering, while not adding to inflation.

And, of course, Labor's cheaper medicines policy helped Australians save over $250 million on medicines in 2023, with more to come in 2024. Changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the introduction of 60-day prescriptions are reducing everyday cost-of-living pressures for Australians. The good news is that the Albanese Labor government is now doubling the number of medicines that are available on the 60-day prescription list.

My constituents are extremely grateful for these reforms, like the person who wrote to me saying, 'As someone with health conditions that require ongoing medication, it'll make a real difference in my life and to my wallet.' There are 184 medicines now available for a 60-day prescription, meaning Novocastrians can now access twice the medication for the single cost of a single prescription. This saves both time and money, and also frees up GP visits for others. Between 1 September last year and 31 January this year, more than 12,000 60-day prescriptions were dispensed in Newcastle. That's a great outcome for my community.