Labor pours $1bn into domestic violence crisis housing and doubles homelessness funding

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The Albanese government will put an extra $1bn towards crisis accommodation for women and children leaving domestic violence, as part of a multi-billion-dollar housing and homelessness package agreed at national cabinet on Friday.

The commonwealth will double its funding for homelessness under the $9.3bn national agreement, while the states will get another $1bn to help speed up construction on infrastructure to support new housing.

Separately the federal government will also adjust policy settings around international students in a bid to ease housing shortages, with plans to put new caps on student numbers, require universities to build more campus accommodation and further crackdown on sub-standard education providers or agents.

“It’s a challenge facing Australians everywhere and it needs action from every level of government,” the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said of Australia’s housing problems.

National cabinet met on Friday to discuss housing issues. The new agreements, to be included in next week’s federal budget, include $1bn for crisis and transitional accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic violence; and $1bn for states and territories to build new roads, sewers, energy and water infrastructure required for new housing developments.

The meeting also produced a new national agreement on social housing and homelessness, which will include plans to address homelessness and maintain social housing.

The five-year plan will be boosted by $400m in annual homelessness funding from the commonwealth, a doubling of current funding and which will be matched by state funding.

The federal government did not immediately detail how many new properties it would seek to build, or where they would be located, under the announcements.

As the domestic violence crisis sweeps Australia, the federal and state governments had been urged to take bold action. Another national cabinet meeting last week made permanent a $5,000 “leaving violence” payment, but governments had been urged to do much more to address domestic violence and help victims, including providing more housing options and social support payments.

Albanese said the new funding would ensure “fewer barriers to construction, less talk and more homes”.

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said housing would be a major focus of Tuesday’s budget, saying “Australia needs to build more homes more quickly” and pointing to boosting supply as the solution.

Despite the government’s own National Housing Supply and Affordability Council projecting only 943,000 new homes will be built over the next five years, the housing minister, Julie Collins, said the government was still committed to “achieve the ambitious national target of 1.2 million new homes by the end of the decade.”

The government has also announced plans to require universities to increase supply of student accommodation for domestic and international students. A statement from the prime minister’s office said Australia must “reduce pressure on the private rental market”.

The education minister, Jason Clare, said the government wanted to see “more purpose-built housing to support students in higher education”. The government did not immediately outline the specifics of that initiative, saying only that it would “work with the higher education sector on new regulation” to see more student accommodation built.

In a separate announcement, Clare said the government would introduce new legislation next week allowing the education minister to set a cap on the maximum number of new international student enrolments institutions can offer.

Universities seeking to enrol students over that cap, Clare’s office said, would have to build new student accommodation – which would “free up pressure on the rental market”.

Labor in December sought to raise the bar for international students to get a visa as part of its migration review, in a bid to weed out dodgy providers and help students to avoid exploitation. The number of international students in Australia in April topped 700,000 for the first time, helping drive the number of temporary entrants to 2.8 million, another new record. The government has come under pressure to lower migration numbers, including student arrivals, in a bid to lessen pressure on the housing market.

The government will seek new powers to crack down on international education providers, including powers to pause new applications for education providers or cancelling dormant providers, preventing education providers from owning education agent businesses, and barring providers under investigation from recruiting new students.

“International students are an incredibly important part of our economy and our communities, and we need to ensure the sector is set up for the future,” Clare said.