In our recent article we mentioned briefly that the Northern Territory and Great South Coast region of Victoria had both successfully negotiated a Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) for their regions. 

This week, we explain what a DAMA is, and how it can benefit businesses. 

What is a DAMA?

A DAMA is a two tiered agreement between the Commonwealth and a state/territory or regional body providing:

  • flexibility for the region to respond to local economic and labour market needs and conditions
  • solutions for Australian businesses where there are skills gaps or shortages that cannot be met by the local labour market
  • streamlined access to a broader range of overseas workers than available through the standard skilled visa programs
  • pathways to permanent residence as incentives to attract and retain overseas workers. 

Which areas have a DAMA?

Currently the only areas with access to a DAMA are:

  • Northern Territory – entire region
  • Great South Coast region of Victoria – Glenelg Shire, Southern Grampians Shire, Moyne Shire, Warrnambool City, Corangamite Shire, Colac Otway Shire

The Department of Home Affairs is currently in discussions with the Pilbara and the Kalgoorlie-Boulder regions, Cairns, and Orana in central Victoria, and news reports last week indicated South Australia is now considering its own DAMA. 

Why use a DAMA?

The recent changes to the employer sponsored visa program, specifically the Subclass 187 Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa means businesses in regional and remote areas of Australia are no long able easily sponsor the overseas workers needed. 

A DAMA provides a solution which focuses on the needs of the specific region. Under the Northern Territory Agreement there are 117 occupations available, some of which are not included on the occupation list for the Temporary Skilled Shortage visa. As an example, under the Northern Territory DAMA your business could sponsor a Forklift Driver, Out of School Hours Care Worker, Accounts Clerks, Bar Attendant, Waiter, Cook (specialist ethnic cuisine). 

The DAMA also provides some concessions to the eligibility criteria which can include concessions to: English language criteria; and concessions of up to 10 per cent to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold which reduces the required annual earnings to $48,510 from $53,900. 

How to apply for access to a DAMA?

To apply for access to a DAMA you must:

  • request an endorsement from the region in which you want to access the DAMA
  • make an application with the Department of Home Affairs request access to a labour agreement
  • once approved submit a subclass 482 Temporary Skills Shortage nomination and visa application using the labour agreement pathway. 

We expect the DAMA will be the migration solution for regional Australia in the future with less and less employers using, or able to satisfy the criteria for, the Subclass 187 visa.