What is Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA)?

The Australian government has developed the DAMA programme to supplement the workforce strategies of states, territories and regions to support economic performance and help them adjust to changing economic conditions. Australia’s economy is complex and the circumstances affecting state and territories vary considerably. A DAMA provides flexibility for states, territories and regions to respond to their unique economic and labour market conditions through an agreement-based framework under which employers in areas experiencing skills and labour shortages can sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers. The over-arching nature of the agreement allows employers streamlined access to a broader range of overseas workers than allowed under the standard temporary skilled migration programme, without the need to individually negotiate terms and conditions.

Currently, there are only 1 DAMA in place, ie. the new Northern Territory Designated Area Migration Agreement (NT DAMA). It is new because it is Northern Territory government’’s renewal to the 1st DAMA. The NT DAMA lets the Northern Territory (NT) employers sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers for positions they are unable to fill with local workers. It is the 2nd version of the NT DAMA and applies to the whole of the NT and is tailored to address current and emerging labour market shortages and local terms and conditions of employment.

NT DAMA utilises the labour agreement stream of the Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482), businesses enter into a labour agreement with the Australian Government and workers are then granted a subclass 482 visa.

The key elements of NT DAMA are:

  • pathways to permanent residency for NT DAMA visa holders (including transitional arrangements for existing visa holders)

  • a broad range of occupations that reflect NT skilled and semi-skilled shortages, with no caveats to apply

  • English language concessions for some occupations

  • salary concessions that reflect NT market rates, ensuring that worker terms and conditions of employment are not eroded, and NT businesses and consumers are not subjected to inflationary costs

  • a range of risk and integrity actions to ensure that the rights of both employees and employers are protected

  • a five year agreement to reduce red tape.

Users of the Northern Territory Designated Area Migration Agreement

Businesses can access the NT DAMA if they are actively operating in the NT and:

  • are viable and have been operating for at least 12 months

  • have no history of not meeting its obligations to employees

  • are looking to employ overseas workers to fill full-time positions with duties that align with one of the occupations on the NT DAMA list

  • can demonstrate they cannot fill the position locally with Australian citizens or permanent residents

  • can provide terms and conditions of employment to overseas workers that are in accordance with those offered to Australian workers employed in the region.

How DAMA works in a nutshell

NODESCRIPTION
1The Designated Area Representative performs ongoing monitoring of labour market conditions in the designated area
2The Designated Area Representative endorse employers
3The Designated Area Representative allocates occupations and numbers of positions to employers
4The Department of Immigration assesses the employer for suitability to enter in a labour agreement
5The Department of Immigration sign labour agreements assesses nomination request from employer
6The Department of Immigration processes visa request
7The Designated Area Representative may request adjustment to number of positions allocated to an employer (if required)
8The Designated Area Representative will evaluate DAMA (following 2nd year anniversary)
9DAMA operational meetings will be held by NT government, the Department of Immigration, and the Designated Area Representative
10The Department of Immigration will also conduct operational integrity

What is the Application Process?

Employers within the designated area can request the endorsement of the designated area representative to access the DAMA. Once the designated area representative has endorsed an employer, the employer should notify the department of the endorsement and provide information necessary for the department to assess whether the employer meets the requirements to become an approved sponsor and enter into a labour agreement. The designated area representative’s endorsement is a necessary pre-requisite before the department can consider whether an employer meets the requirements to become an approved sponsor under a DAMA labour agreement.

Endorsement Requirements

The department does not prescribe how a designated area representative should assess employers for DAMA endorsement and the designated area representative may determine its own endorsement criteria. The department requires, however, that a decision to endorse an employer should be based on consideration of risk that the employer might pose to the integrity of the programme and whether the employer’s participation in the DAMA will support its objectives. They must also confirm that the employer has genuinely sought to recruit Australian citizens or permanent residents into the requested occupations. Any endorsement should be provided in writing confirming:

  • that a labour agreement with the employer would support the objectives of the programme;

  • the employer has genuinely sought to recruit Australian citizens or permanent residents into the requested occupations within the previous 6 months;

  • that the designated area representative has monitored the labour market, and the requested occupations and number of overseas workers is reasonable in the context of local labour market conditions;

  • the occupations the employer can access;

  • any concessions the employer can access; and

  • the number of nominations (or “ceiling”) the employer can initially access for each occupation.

How Long is Endorsement Valid?

Endorsement to access the Northern Territory Designated Area Migration Agreement (NT DAMA) is for up to five years, however initial allocation of occupation types and number of vacancies are for the first year only. Businesses seeking to access new overseas workers will need to apply to the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation each subsequent year. Most applications are for additional numbers of the same endorsed occupation type(s), however additional occupations included in the agreement can be applied for.


What are the Requirements for DAMA?

+How businesses are assessed as being eligible?

The Northern Territory (NT) Government considers all of the following factors to determine if a businesses can use the Northern Territory Designated Area Migration Agreement (NT DAMA).

If you are operating and located in the NT:

  • businesses must have been actively operating for at least 12 months
  • all positions to be filled must be located in the NT.

What your workforce needs are:

  • the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation will assess your current and future workforce needs to determine which occupation(s) and concession(s) requested will be endorsed under the NT DAMA
  • how many positions can be nominated for each occupation and for each concession
  • the endorsement to access the NT DAMA is for up to five years, however the endorsement of occupations and numbers of positions to be filled is valid for one year. Businesses seeking to access more overseas workers will need to apply to the department for endorsement of occupation(s) and the number of vacant positions each year.

Whether you are unable to employ an Australian citizen or permanent resident to fill the position and whether you are offering terms and conditions of employment that meet market rates:

  • businesses need to demonstrate they have undertaken appropriate labour market testing and are unable to employ an Australian citizen or permanent resident to fill the position
  • the standard of labour market testing including duration, content and eligible mediums of advertising, are defined by the Department of Home Affairs, for more information on labour market testing requirements go to the Department of Home Affairs website
  • businesses need to provide evidence the terms and conditions of employment are in line with Australian workplace standards - they must be no less than what an Australian would be paid to undertake the same job in the same location.

Whether you can be endorsed to access concessions:

  • businesses seeking endorsement for the English or Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold concessions will need to demonstrate why the concession(s) are needed for the position(s) they are trying to fill.

+How to show unable to employ locally? ie. Labour Market Testing (LMT)

You must provide evidence of your local recruitment efforts over the last six months. There are many ways you can do this. You could:

  • contact a recruitment agency
  • advertise a vacancy in:
    • newspapers
    • professional and trade publications
    • industry associations’ newsletters.
  • advertise on a recruitment website like:
    • CareerOne (if you advertise a vacancy in the NT News or the Centralian Advocate your vacancy will also be published on this site)
    • Seek
    • Adzuna
    • Australian JobSearch.
  • work with Job Services Australia, who work with businesses to assess the types of workers required and attempt to match them with trained and work ready job seekers.
  • consider employing an apprentice - if you don’t have enough work for an ongoing or full-time apprenticeship position, group training organisations can organise to share an apprentice with another business, go to the Australian Apprenticeships website.

+What qualifications and experience do the foreign worker need to show?

If a business is endorsed to access an occupation on the Australian Government’s current list of eligible skilled occupations (the short-term skilled occupation list, medium and long-term strategic skills list or regional occupation list), the overseas worker will needed to demonstrate the same level of qualifications and experience as the standard Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482) and Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa programs.

Skill level 1 to 3 occupations

Foreign workers filling any Northern Territory Designated Area Migration Agreement (NT DAMA) occupations that are not on the Australian Government’s short-term skilled occupation list, medium and long-term strategic skills list or regional occupation list must meet the following requirements:

  • undergo a skills verification regional area nominated registered training organisation or the Northern Territory Department of Trade, Business and Innovation, and
  • meet the skill level as defined in ANZSCO, and
  • have at least two years post qualification experience.

General skill level 4 occupations

Overseas workers seeking to be nominated to fill any other skill level 4 occupations eligible for the NT DAMA must have:

  • an AQF Certificate II or equivalent and at least one and a half years (20 hours plus per week) relevant post qualifications experience, or
  • at least a relevant AQF Certificate III or equivalent and at least one year (20 hours plus per week) relevant post qualification experience, or
  • at least two years (38 hours plus per week) relevant experience.
  • occupations in health care must have at least a relevant Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) diploma or equivalent or higher level qualification and at least one year (20 hours plus per week) relevant post qualification experience.

+Can English language & salary requirement be lowered?

ANZSCO code

Occupation

ANZSCO skill level

English concession may be available

TSMIT concession may be available

221111

Accountant - general

1

 

 

551111

Accounts clerk

4

423111

Aged or disabled carer

4

 

721111

Agricultural and horticultural mobile plant operator

4

231111

Aeroplane pilot^

1

 

 

342111

Airconditioning and refrigeration mechanic^

3

 

323111

Aircraft maintenance engineer - avionics^

3

 

 

323112

Aircraft maintenance engineer - mechanical^

3

 

 

121111

Aquaculture farmer

1

362212

Arborist

3

 

321111

Automotive electrician

3

 

351111

Baker

3

070499#

Bar attendant - supervisor^

4

431112

Barista

4

451111

Beauty therapist

4

 

121312

Beef cattle farmer

1

551211

Bookkeeper

4

731211

Bus driver^

4

351211

Butcher or smallgoods maker

3

394111

Cabinetmaker

3

 

342411

Cabler - data and telecommunications

3

 

141111

Café or restaurant manager

2

 

 

331212

Carpenter

3

 

351311

Chef

2

 

111111

Chief executive or managing director

1

 

 

421111

Childcare worker^

4

 

134111

Childcare centre manager^

1

 

 

312212

Civil engineering technician

2

 

411711

Community worker

2

 

149311

Conference and event organiser

2

 

 

351411

Cook

3

070499#

Cook - specialist ethnic cuisine

3

149212

Customer service manager

2

 

 

442213

Crowd controller^

4

 

899211

Deckhand^

4

423211

Dental assistant

4

 

321212

Diesel motor mechanic

3

 

411712

Disabilities services officer

2

 

399911

Diver

3

241111

Early childhood (pre-primary school) teacher^

1

 

 

721211

Earthmoving plant operator - general

4

311412

Earth science technician

2

 

 

342211

Electrical linesworker^

3

 

342314

Electronic instrument trades worker - general

3

 

721214

Excavator operator

4

149913

Facilities manager

2

 

 

421112

Family day care worker^

4

 

411713

Family support worker

2

 

323211

Fitter - general

3

 

323212

Fitter and turner

3

 

323213

Fitter-welder

3

 

332111

Floor finisher

3

231113

Flying instructor^

1

 

 

721311

Forklift driver

4

121213

Fruit or nut grower

1

431311

Gaming worker

4

142114

Hair or beauty salon manager

2

 

391111

Hairdresser

3

313111

Hardware technician

2

 

141311

Hotel or motel manager

2

 

 

542113

Hotel or motel receptionist

4

 

431411

Hotel service manager

3

313112

ICT customer support officer

2

 

 

313199

ICT support technicians nec

2

 

 

272412

Interpreter^

1

 

 

362213

Landscape gardener

3

 

141411

Licensed club manager

2

 

 

721912

Linemarker

4

221112

Management accountant

1

 

 

225113

Marketing specialist

1

 

322311

Metal fabricator

3

 

121411

Mixed crop and livestock farmer

1

121216

Mixed crop farmer

1

121317

Mixed livestock farmer

1

321211

Motor mechanic - general

3

 

899411

Motor vehicle parts and accessories fitter - general

4

621311

Motor vehicle or caravan salesperson

4

 

621312

Motor vehicle parts interpreter

4

321213

Motorcycle mechanic

3

 

423312

Nursing support worker

4

 

512111

Office manager

2

 

 

421114

Out of school hours care worker^

4

 

324111

Panelbeater

3

423313

Personal care assistant

4

 

311215

Pharmacy technician

2

 

334111

Plumber - general^

3

 

322312

Pressure welder

3

 

511112

Program or project administrator

2

 

 

612112

Property manager

3

 

 

272612

Recreation officer

1

 

 

411715

Residential care worker

2

 

142111

Retail manager - general

2

 

621511

Retail supervisor

4

 

131112

Sales and marketing manager

1

 

 

322211

Sheetmetal trades worker

3

231212

Ship’s engineer

1

 

231213

Ship’s master^

1

 

 

321214

Small engine mechanic

3

 

399516

Sound technician

3

133611

Supply and distribution manager

1

 

 

221113

Taxation accountant

1

 

 

342412

Telecommunications cable jointer

3

 

342413

Telecommunications linesworker

3

 

342414

Telecommunications technician

3

 

423314

Therapy aide

4

 

451412

Tour guide

4

733111

Truck driver - general^

4

121221

Vegetable grower

1

324311

Vehicle painter

3

361311

Veterinary nurse

3

 

 

070499#

Waiter supervisor

4

712921

Waste water or water plant operator

4

 

 

313113

Web administrator

2

 

232414

Web designer

1

 

322313

Welder - first class

3

 

272613

Welfare worker

1

 

 

411716

Youth worker

2

 

'#' occupations not listed in ANZSCO

'^' applicants must meet occupational licensing or registration requirements.

What are the Steps to Apply for DAMA?

STEPDESCRIPTION
1Contact Us
2We will ask you a series of questions and fill up a questionnaire. This is an initial assessment.
3If you fail the initial assessment, we will provide you a guide on setting your business up to be eligible. We will also provide you with a variety of other pathways. However, if you pass the initial assessment, we will commence making a request for endorsement with the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation (NT)
4Our office will request a list of documents and comprehensive information in preparation for t he request to access a labour agreement under the NT DAMA
5On receiving the information you provide, we will assist you with refining them. This process involves going back and forth numerous times.
6We will write to the relevant stakeholders and seek to attend a meeting with them to discuss your business' needs.
7Our office will perform a 3-point check. Human Error, Legal Check, and Final Check (which involves a Senior Lawyer decline the application using subjective criticism)
8Your request for endorsement will be submitted to the NT government
9If you business is eligible to access NT DAMA, a letter of endorsement and copies of the supporting documenst will be sent to the Australian Government
10On being notified, we will subsequently apply for a labour agreement through the Department of Immigration
11If the Labour Agreement is approved, you may begin to sponsor foreign workers by submitting a nomination application for your business identifying the foreign worker that is suitably skilled and experienced for the occupation that has NT DAMA approval. You must provide each worker with a settlement package (which will be provided to you) before the worker lodges their visa application.
12Under some occupations the department must verify whether the overseas worker, that the businesses intends to nominate, has qualifications and / or experience that match those required for the nominated NT DAMA occupation. When the verification is completed the department will issue a skills verification letter to be included with the overseas workers visa application.
13The Visa application is usually lodged once the nomination application is approved. But in urgent cases, it may be possible to lodge the Nomination Application and Visa application at the same time.

What We Like About the DAMA?

Statistics accessed under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 shows that back in August 2015, The Northern Territory Department of Business (NT DoB) has endorsed 20 businesses for a labour agreement under the NT DAMA

Of the NT DAMA requests approved/endorsed by the Department of Immigration, these occupations were requested:

  • Cook – ANZSCO 351411

  • Bar Attendant (Supervisor) – ANZSCO 431111

  • General Clerk – ANZSCO 531111

  • Chef – ANZSCO 351311

  • Hotel Service Manager – ANZSCO 431411

  • Waiter (Supervisor) – ANZSCO 431511

  • Storeperson – ANZSCO 741111

  • Tour Guide – ANZSCO 451412

  • Retail Manager (General) – ANZSCO 142111

  • Child Care Worker – ANZSCO 421111