Designated Area Migration Agreements – The Future of Immigration?

The Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) programme has been developed to supplement the workforce strategies of states, territories and regions, to support economic performance and help them adjust to changing economic conditions.

The DAMA is a two-tier agreement: the first tier consists of an overarching three-year deed of agreement with a designated area representative setting out occupations, ceilings and concessions; and the second tier comprising individual labour agreements with direct employers.

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Northern Territory Designated Area Migration Agreement

The new Northern Territory Designated Area Migration Agreement (NT DAMA) lets the Northern Territory (NT) employers sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers for positions they are unable to fill with local workers. It is the second version of the NT DAMA and applies to the whole of the NT and is tailored to address current and emerging labour market shortages and local terms and conditions of employment.

NT DAMA utilises the labour agreement stream of the Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482), businesses enter into a labour agreement with the Australian Government and workers are then granted a subclass 482 visa.

Note: The NT DAMA is an employer-sponsored visa program and individual workers cannot apply for a visa independently.

The key elements of NT DAMA are:

  • pathways to permanent residency for NT DAMA visa holders (including transitional arrangements for existing visa holders)
  • a broad range of occupations that reflect NT skilled and semi-skilled shortages, with no caveats to apply
  • English language concessions for some occupations
  • salary concessions that reflect NT market rates, ensuring that worker terms and conditions of employment are not eroded, and NT businesses and consumers are not subjected to inflationary costs
  • a range of risk and integrity actions to ensure that the rights of both employees and employers are protected
  • a five year agreement to reduce red tape.

Occupations included in the agreement

City of Kalgoorlie Boulder

The Western Australian Goldfields is the first region in Western Australia to establish a Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA).
The DAMA allows Goldfields employers to sponsor skilled and semi skilled overseas workers for positions they are unable to fill with local workers. The Goldfields DAMA has been tailored to address current and emerging labour market shortages in our region with local terms and conditions of employment.

Skilled migrants are critical to supplementing the local Goldfields workforce during periods of skills shortages.

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What occupations are included in the Goldfields DAMA?

The Goldfields DAMA secured 72 occupations across multiple industries. The DAMA is not just targeted at mining and heavy industry jobs.  The approved list of skilled workers includes jobs such as childcare workers, hospitality supervisors and disability worker to help fill the shortages in these industries. A complete list of occupations is available here.

Warrnambool City Council

A Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) is an agreement between the Australian Government and a designated area to enable businesses within that area to address specific labour shortages.

The Great South Coast (GSC) DAMA enables the region’s employers to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled Overseas Workers for specified positions they are unable to fill with local workers.

This website provides guidance to employers seeking endorsement to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled Overseas Workers.

A total of 27 occupations have been identified as eligible for consideration through the program and are across a variety of industries.

Immigration South Australia

The South Australian Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) is a formal agreement between the Australian Government, represented by the Department of Home Affairs and the South Australian Government, Department of Innovation and Skills.

The South Australian Government has entered into two DAMAs:

  1. Adelaide Technology and Innovation Advancement Agreement – which focuses on Adelaide’s high-tech growth industries including defence, space, technology and advanced manufacturing industries.
    The Adelaide City Technology and Innovation Advancement Agreement is the Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) covering the Greater Adelaide planning region.
  2. South Australian Regional Workforce Agreement – which focuses on the South Australia’s regional high growth industries including agribusiness, forestry, health and social services, tourism and hospitality, construction and mining.
    The South Australian Regional Workforce Agreement is the Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) covering the entire state of South Australia.

List of occupations

Regional Development Australia – Orana, NSW

The Orana region DAMA is a five year labour agreement between the Federal Government and Regional Development Australia Orana. The Orana region DAMA has been negotiated to provide employers a specific tool to sponsor skilled overseas workers in specified industries in our region that are currently experiencing critical skill and labour shortages.

Far North Queensland: Cairns Chamber of Commerce DAMA – Pending approval

WHAT IS DAMA?

  • (DAMA) is a formal agreement between the Australian Government and regional authority (chamber of commerce, council, state government) called Designated Area Representative

  • DAMAs enable employers to sponsor skilled overseas workers for positions they are unable to fill with local workers

  • DAMAs enables them to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers with more flexible requirements than are available via the standard skilled visa programs.

  • DAMA can provide concessions such as English language, salary, occupations not included in the standard skilled occupation lists and age to facilitate pathways to permanent residency

Businesses can access the DAMA if they are actively operating in a particular region covered by  DAMA  and:

  • are viable and have been operating for at least 12 months

  • have no history of not meeting its obligations to employees

  • are looking to employ overseas workers to fill full-time positions with duties that align with one of the occupations on the regional DAMA list

  • can demonstrate they cannot fill the position locally with Australian citizens or permanent residents

  • can provide terms and conditions of employment to overseas workers that are in accordance with those offered to Australian workers employed in the region

Under the DAMA framework, employers in designated areas experiencing skills and labour shortages can sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers. Individuals cannot directly access a DAMA. Individuals need to be sponsored:

  • by an employer operating in a designated region
  • for an occupation that is specified in the head agreement.

Examples of semi-skilled occupations available in DAMA approved regions of Australia :

Nursing support worker; Personal care assistant; Bar Attendant; Gaming Worker; Waiter; Hotel or Motel Receptionist; Sand Blaster; Earthmoving Plant Operator (General); Bulldozer Operator; Truck Driver (General); Scaffolder; Fishing Hand; Farm, Forestry and Garden Workers (nec) (Irrigationist); Motor Vehicle Parts and Accessories Fitter (General); Accounts clerk; Agricultural and horticultural mobile plant operator; Barista; Beauty therapist; Bookkeeper; Retail supervisor; Deckhand; Bus driver; Agricultural and horticultural mobile plant operator

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Designated Area Migration Agreements – The Future of Immigration?

The Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) programme has been developed to supplement the workforce strategies of states, territories and regions, to support economic performance and help them adjust to changing economic conditions.

The DAMA is a two-tier agreement: the first tier consists of an overarching three-year deed of agreement with a designated area representative setting out occupations, ceilings and concessions; and the second tier comprising individual labour agreements with direct employers.

DAMAs establish collaborative arrangements, with shared roles and responsibilities, between the Australian Government and regional or state and territory authorities.

The overarching nature of a DAMA allows employers streamlined access to a broader range of overseas workers than available through the standard subclass 482 visa programme, without the need to individually negotiate terms and conditions. DAMAs are attractive to small businesses which may not have the resources to develop a labour agreement directly with the government.

Whilst DAMAs vary from state to state, the key elements for DAMA similar to those  of a labour agreement, however specifics include:

  • The utilisation of labour agreement stream of the TSS programme for businesses enter into a labour agreement with the Australian Government and workers are then granted a subclass 482 visa.
  • pathways to permanent residency for DAMA visa holders (including transitional arrangements for existing visa holders)
  • a broad range of occupations that reflect skilled and semi-skilled shortages, with no caveats to apply
  • English language concessions for some occupations
  • salary concessions that in some instances however these are generally specific from state to state, ensuring that worker terms and conditions of employment are not eroded, and state businesses and consumers are not subjected to inflationary costs
  • a range of risk and integrity actions to ensure that the rights of both employees and employers are protected

As an organisation at the forefront of skilled migration, at this point in time Northern Territory has negotiated DAMA and NSW submitted a Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) to the Federal Government. As the first of its kind in NSW to streamline the visa application process, the DAMA is set to make it easier for migrant employees and employers to fill vacant positions.

As mentioned earlier, DAMAs are custom-designed arrangements which support a tailored, regional response to labour needs. They are an important tool in assisting regions to manage workforce strategies that support local growth. The over-arching nature of these agreements allows employers targeted and streamlined access to a broader range of overseas workers than allowed under standard State and National skilled migration programmes. The DAMA will negotiate terms and conditions, cutting down on individual employer visa worker hiring costs.

Similar to Labour Agreements, DAMA’s are granted for five years.

Businesses can access the DAMA if they are actively operating in a particular state and:

  • are viable and have been operating for at least 12 months
  • have no history of not meeting its obligations to employees
  • are looking to employ overseas workers to fill full-time positions with duties that align with one of the occupations on the State Specific DAMA list
  • can demonstrate they cannot fill the position locally with Australian citizens or permanent residents
  • can provide terms and conditions of employment to overseas workers that are in accordance with those offered to Australian workers employed in the region.