New guidelines for DAMAs released

Publish Date: Sep 11, 2014

The guidelines for Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA) have now been finalised by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).

This new class of agreement will enable businesses in these areas to hire skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers if an Australian with the required skill set cannot be found for the role. 

Assistant Minister for DIBP Senator Michaelia Cash explained in an August 29 government press release that the new agreements would provide more opportunities for Australians in areas that are currently experiencing skills or labour shortages. 

"DAMAs will be very closely monitored to ensure that they do not adversely impact on the local workforce, which the government is committed to ensuring has absolute priority in the labour market," Minister Cash said.

The guidelines make it very clear that the recruitment and retention of Australians in areas where there are skill and labour shortages are the first priority for employers who are signed up to the DAMA program. 

The minimum wage that may be considered as part of a DAMA is $48,510. This is due to a salary concession of up to 10 per cent on the 457 minimum salary threshold (or TSMIT) which may be considered. Minister Cash says that the TSMIT threshold of $53,900 is higher than the equivalent award paid to Australian workers. 

Employers participating in DAMAs must ensure that overseas workers are treated to terms and conditions, which are no less favourable than those the equivalent Australian worker would be treated to.

Other regulations include hiring only semi-skilled or skilled workers, meeting subclass 457 sponsorship obligations, attempting to recruit Australian workers and ensuring that the overseas worker has the required qualification and experience. 

Additionally, any request for a DAMA should be discussed with relevant business, local/state government, union and community stakeholders, and must be endorsed by the relevant state/territory government prior to submitting the application to DIBP.

The guidelines for DAMA were drafted following extensive consultation with a variety of stakeholders, including the Australian public, labour unions and state and territorial governments. 

Business migration can be a difficult area to navigate, but if you are interested in business or general skilled visas or agreements a lawyer can talk you through the process. 

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