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rapid antigen tests.

From January 24, up to 10 Rapid Antigen Tests over three months (a maximum of 5 in a month) will be made available free through pharmacies to certain concession cardholders.

Who is eligible?

From 24 January, you can access free RATs if you hold an eligible Commonwealth concession card:

  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card
  • Department of Veterans' Affairs Gold, White or Orange Card
  • Health Care Card
  • Low Income Health Card

How many tests can I get?

You can claim up to 10 free Rapid Antigen Tets (RATs) in a three month period. A maximum of 5 will be available in a single month, and this will be subject to supply and availability at your local participating pharmacy.

The pharmacist does not have to give you all five tests at once, but they will if they are able to. The pharmacy will give you a minimum of 2 RATs for each eligible individual, subject to availability. 

Where can I get my free tests?

You can pick them up from a participating community pharmacy. Find out where to collect your free RAT from a local community pharmacy on the Pharmacy Guild of Australia website

While these free tests will be made available through local pharmacies, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms and close contacts of people with COVID-19, should attend a state clinic for free testing and not go to a pharmacy to receive a free test. 

You don’t need to contact Service Australia or the Department of Veteran Affairs to claim your free RATs.

You will need to attend a participating community pharmacy in person and present your Commonwealth concession card.

You will need to give consent to the pharmacy to record your concession card details. The pharmacy will check and confirm your details, including whether RATs have already been provided to you.

Keep in mind, supply is subject to availability. Availability is a huge problem right now and you may have to go on a waiting list. Call or visit your local pharmacy to find out if they have any available or when they are likely to. Please be aware that you may not get through on the phone as pharmacists are fielding calls from a lot of people in the community right now. Be patient, and remember do not go to the pharmacy if you are unwell! Instead, attend a state or territory COVID-19 testing clinic. 

Ongoing supply issues

In early January, the National Cabinet noted the Commonwealth will provide 10 million RATs to states and territories (a combination of predominantly Point of Care Tests and self-tests) to assist with testing and laboratory capacity. National Cabinet agreed to fund these in line with the existing National Partnership Agreement on the COVID-19 Response.

National Cabinet received a briefing from Joe Buffone, Director-General of Emergency Management Australia, on behalf of the National Coordination Mechanism (NCM). Supply chain issues continue to be one of the main disruptors of broad access to RATs. National Cabinet noted that the Commonwealth is working through the NCM to finalise anti-hoarding measures with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and other major retailers that stock RATs to limit the number of RATs available for sale to each individual.

National Cabinet noted the Commonwealth will prohibit price gouging of and the non-commercial export of RATs, similar to actions taken earlier in the pandemic relating to essential goods such as masks, other PPE and hand sanitiser. As was the case previously, price gouging will be defined as supplying or offering to supply essential goods at a price that is more than 120% of the initial purchase price (a 20% markup) and penalties for not complying with this direction will range up to five years imprisonment or $66,000.


Australian Department of Health - Accessing free rapid antigen tests

Australian Department of Health - Rapid antigen testing - concessional access program

Service Australia - Get free rapid tests if you are a concession cardholder

Prime Ministers Media statement 5 Jan 2022

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