Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA)

The introduction of the new Subclass 482 Temporary Skills Shortage visa last year saw a 28% decline in the amount of sponsored visas being granted, which created a severe skills shortage across affected businesses.

In order to rectify this issue and also distribute the migrant population outside of major Australian cities, the Australian government has created a new Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA). This scheme will enable specific regions to resolve workforce shortages with experienced, skilled or semi-skilled overseas workers, as well as offer a pathway to permanent residency for successful migrant applicants.

Nothern Territory Australia map

This scheme has so far been implemented in the Northern Territory and announced for Warrnambool, in VIC, with other regions experiencing skill shortages, such as Kalgoorlie-Boulder and the Pilbara in WA, Cairns in QLD and Orana in NSW, currently in discussion.

DAMAs are collaborative agreements between the Australian government and a Designated Area Representative (DAR), with specific elements varying for each state. As the DAMA will negotiate terms and conditions, this agreement will also make it easier for small businesses, who may not have the resources to develop a direct labour agreement with the government, and also help to cut down on individual employer visa worker hiring costs. It will also allow businesses to be able to access to a broader range of overseas workers than the standard State and National subclass 482 and skilled migration programmes. Once a DAMA is in place, DAR will assess and endorse eligible local employers, who can then apply to enter into individual labour agreements using the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) and Employer Nomination Scheme programs.

 

Warrnambool Victoria Map

DAMAs vary from state to state, with key elements being similar to current labour agreements, with specifics including:

  • Grant period of five years
  • Use of labour agreement stream of the TSS for businesses to enter into a labour agreement with the Australian Government, with approved workers then granted a Subclass 482 visa
  • Pathway to permanent residency for DAMA visa holders, including transitional arrangements
  • Broad range of available occupations which reflect skilled and semi-skilled shortages, with no caveats to apply
  • English language concessions, for some occupations
  • Salary concessions, in some cases, which vary for each state

To be eligible to access the DAMA, business must:

  • Be operating in the relevant state
  • Be a viable business which has been operating for at least 12 months
  • Have no history of not meeting employee obligations
  • Be looking to employ overseas workers in full time positions with duties which align with a relevant occupation on the State Specific DAMA list
  • Be able to show that they are not able to fill the relevant position locally Australian citizens or permanent residents.
  • Provide terms and conditions of employment which comply with regional standards