Why Employers Should give a DAMA about Labour Agreements

Australia set up Designated Area Migration Agreements to help regional employers tackle skills shortages. But what are they and how do they help?

In a bid to foster regional development and address skill shortages, one of the programs Australia has is the Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA).  These agreements are a tool aimed at supporting businesses and employers in regional areas by providing more tailored solutions to specific skill shortage needs. They allow employers in designated areas to sponsor skilled workers from overseas to fill positions that cannot be filled by local workers.

DAMAs enable eligible regional businesses to sponsor employees for subclass 482 visas, subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visas, and subclass 186 Employer Nominated Scheme (ENS) visas via a labour agreement.

Labour Agreement 482 visas mechanics

What is a Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA)?

A Designated Area Migration Agreement is a type of labour agreement. DAMAs are specific subsets of labour agreements that focus on addressing the unique challenges faced by a specific region.  Employers must seek and gain endorsement from the Designated Area Representative before lodging a labour agreement.

Labour Agreements: what are they? How do they work?

How DAMAs Support Businesses and Employers in Regional Areas

Regional areas often struggle to attract and retain qualified professionals, leading to workforce shortages. DAMAs are specific subsets of labour agreements that enable access to a broader pool of skilled workers for regional employers.   DAMAs enable employers in designated areas to sponsor overseas workers for occupations that are not covered by the standard skilled migration program. Employers can sponsor overseas workers for subclass 482 visas, subclass 494  Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visas, and subclass 186 Employer Nominated Scheme (ENS) visas. The list of occupations created by a particular DAMA can sometimes include concessions on the English language requirements, age and the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT). This flexibility is crucial for addressing specific skill gaps in regional industries such as agriculture, healthcare, and construction.

The unique feature of these agreements is that they have a list of occupations that are excluded from other skilled occupation lists. They also offer potential concessions on certain skilled worker eligibility requirements.

494 visa skillled employer sponsored

Whose Involved in a DAMA?

DAMAs are agreements between the Australian government, represented by the Department of Home Affairs, and individual states, territories, or regional authorities, like a chamber of commerce or a council. The agreement outlines the specific skills shortages and occupations needed in the designated area – and that are not on other skilled occupation lists. There are currently 12 DAMAs operating in Australia. The list of occupations and concessions are continually updated.

Addressing Australia’s Skills Shortages

DAMAs and labour agreements provide benefits for employers who are looking to sponsor skilled workers. These agreements streamline the visa application process and provide access to a wider pool of skilled workers. Employers can also receive support and guidance from the government to ensure they are meeting their obligations as sponsors.

Contact your registered migration agent for further advice about leveraging the opportunities of DAMAs and Labour Agreements.


Sources: Department of Home Affairs, Regional Development Australia, East Kimberley Chamber of Commerce and Industry