In the first year, 200 places have been made available for skilled overseas workers in occupations ranging from childcare workers to mechanics and cooks to farm inspector.
Regional Queensland is now open to skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers in 70 occupations ranging from restaurant supervisor to mechanics and from cooks to childcare workers.
The five-year Far North Queensland Designated Area Migration Agreement (FNQ DAMA) came into effect on September 12, 2019, and is now open to businesses and employers to sponsor skilled migrants in Cassowary Coast, the Tablelands, Mareeba, Cairns and the Douglas Shire through the Cairns Chamber of Commerce.
In the first year, 200 places have been made available for the region looking for skilled overseas workers in occupations ranging from childcare workers to mechanics and cooks to farm inspector.
What is FNQ DAMA?
The FNQ DAMA utilises the labour agreement stream of the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482).
Businesses approved for a labour agreement with the Department of Home Affairs can nominate overseas workers under the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS subclass 482) visa program.
The FNQ DAMA is an employer-sponsored visa program and individual workers cannot apply for a visa independently. Employers must first be endorsed by the Designated Area Representative (DAR) before submitting a DAMA Labour Agreement request with the Department of Home Affairs.
The Australian Government has recently floated a special immigration scheme for parts of Australia that is experiencing labour shortages or need a population boost.
The Designated Area Migration Agreements known as DAMAs provide local businesses access to more overseas workers than the standard skilled migration program.
Under the DAMA framework, employers in designated areas 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.
Australia currently has seven DAMAs which include places like Northern Territory, The Goldfields in Western Australia, Great South Coast in Victoria, Adelaide City and Regional South Australia and Orana in New South Wales.
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said the FNQ DAMA provided a tailored solution to businesses to fill skills gaps that can’t be filled by local workers.
“We’ll continue to work with regions around the country to ensure they can grow their local economy, with the help of the immigration system,” Mr Coleman said adding there were around 60,000 jobs that can’t be filled by Australian workers.
Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said the DAMA will assist a range of industries including tourism, hospitality, agriculture, shipping and health and help to drive economic growth.
“This initiative will help fill the employment void across many sectors,” Mr. Entsch said.
The Cairns Chamber of Commerce, overlooking the application process has employed a person experienced in migration to help implement the scheme.
“We are huge supporters of jobs for Australians and particularly locals first, but there are many businesses having difficulties in hiring and retaining skilled workers, and we encourage those businesses looking to fill the jobs they can’t currently fill to start putting their cases together now,” Chamber president Nick Loukas said.
“We have been given a cap of 200 applications for the first year, which we are anticipating will be easily reached.”
“Opens up an opportunity for migrants willing to move out of big cities”
A migration agent based in Queensland says the new DAMA will open up the opportunity for migrants who are willing to move out of big cities and live in regional areas.
“I have had interest from pub and restaurant owners who would like to employ Indian cooks and chefs to introduce Indian cuisine in the region. The new DAMA will allow these businesses to bring in skilled and experienced workers,” says Seema Chauhan, a MARA agent-based in Gold Coast.
“These employers generally advertise to attract expression of interest to work in the area. Now, this new agreement will allow businesses to get these skilled workers in the region and the visa comes with a possibility of getting a permanent residency visa,” says Ms Chauhan.
Like other existing DAMAs, special concessions in English requirement and work experience requirements are available to certain skilled workers in the FNQ DAMA.
Successful visa applicants will also be eligible for permanent residency visas after working in the region for three years.