With the 45th Australian Parliament drawn to a close last week and Australia gearing up for a federal election most likely in May, one of the last major acts the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs undertook was formalising Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs) as previously promised with Warrnambool in Victoria, the region of Orana in western New South Wales, and two for South Australia.
The rush to sign these agreements is because when an election is called the government will enter caretaker mode, a convention which will see no major policy decisions until after the election. Entering major agreements, such as DAMAs is likely to upset this convention.
DAMAs are overarching labour agreements for local businesses in approved areas to use Subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visas to fill critical skill shortages not covered by the standard business sponsor program where no local worker is available. Benefits can include nominating certain occupations not on the approved occupation list for standard business sponsors and may be able to access concessions for English language ability or salary. There may also be the option for an approved 482 visa holder to apply for a permanent Subclass 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme or Subclass 187 – Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa.
On the progression of the DAMA for Warrnambool, the Warrnambool City Council updated their website recently to confirm that the 25 available occupations will be known in June 2019 after previously stating they would be released by April.
For Orana and South Australia, their websites have yet to be updated.