Investigation of Designated Area Migration Agreement puts key workers shortages in the spotlight

Published on Tuesday, 8 June 2021 at 11:46:59 AM

Council has endorsed the Town investigating, and potentially applying to, the Federal Government through the Department of Home Affairs to establish a Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA).
A DAMA is a formal agreement between the Australian Government and a regional, state or territory authority, providing access to more overseas workers than the standard skilled migration program. A Designated Area Representative (DER) represents a DAMA and is responsible for managing its negotiation, implementation and ongoing management. 
The purpose of the Town potentially establishing or supporting a DAMA is to address key worker shortages in a number of priority areas including the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors, as well as the local children’s education and care sector, in particular, to address the shortage of early childhood teachers (ECTs). 
The establishment of a DAMA would enable local employers experiencing skills and labour shortages to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers. However, DAMAs ensure employers recruit Australian citizens and permanent residents as a priority: employers would need to demonstrate a genuine attempt to recruit Australians before accessing a DAMA labour agreement. 
In February 2021, Council endorsed the Assessing Childcare Needs in Hedland report, which highlighted staffing-related issues as one of the critical barriers for childcare provision in Hedland, recommending the investigation of a DAMA to rectify the problem. 
Potential exists for the Town to submit a joint DAMA application with other Pilbara regional local governments, effectively establishing a Pilbara DAMA in the labour areas that are experiencing skill shortages.
Mayor Peter Carter welcomed Council’s endorsement.
“It’s clear to Council and I that a number of critical sectors of our economy in the Pilbara are facing staff shortages, which is why we welcome the Town investigating the potential for the establishment of a Designated Area Migration Agreement. 
“Our region’s strong economic performance over the last 12 months signifies more demand on the children’s education and care sector over the next five years. Nationally, the industry is predicted to require 39,000 additional workers by 2023 to meet demand, highlighting the urgency of this issue.
“The establishment of a Pilbara Designated Area Migration Agreement would enable local employers to liaise with a Designated Area Representative to fill the critical roles which ultimately support the needs of local families. 
“I’d like to emphasise that Designated Area Migration Agreements ensure employers recruit Australian citizens and permanent residents as a priority, which would prioritise local job creation here in the Pilbara.”
For a DAMA to be established, an application needs to be firstly lodged with the Department of Home Affairs. Following this, it is projected to take up to six months to determine the outcome of the application.

For media information:
Laura Hawes
Manager Corporate Affairs
(08) 9158 9365 |

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