A Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) is a formal agreement between the Australian Government and a regional, state or territory authority. It provides access to more overseas workers than the standard skilled migration program. DAMAs operate under an agreement-based framework, providing flexibility for regions to respond to their unique economic and labour market conditions.
A DAMA is a two-tier framework covering a defined regional area. The first tier is an overarching five-year deed of agreement (head agreement) with the region’s representative. The second tier comprises individual labour agreements with employers under the settings of the head agreement for that region.
DAMA labour agreements are between the Australian Government and endorsed employers operating within the relevant region. They are:
- generally, in effect for five years and
- use the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) and Employer Nominated Scheme (ENS) visa programs.
Employers must seek and gain endorsement from the Designated Area Representative before lodging a labour agreement request.
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.
Among other things, employers must demonstrate a genuine attempt to recruit Australians prior to getting access to a DAMA.
There are presently six DAMAs in place:
- Northern Territory: Northern Territory Designated Area Migration Agreement
- The Goldfields, WA: City of Kalgoorlie Boulder
- Great South Coast, VIC: Warrnambool City Council
- Adelaide City and Regional SA: Immigration South Australia
- Orana, NSW: Regional Development Australia – Orana, NSW
- Far North Queensland: Cairns Chamber of Commerce DAMA – Cairns Chamber of Commerce, FNQ
Source: Department of Home Affairs