The five-year Far North Queensland Designated Area Migration Agreement (FNQ DAMA) is now open for business.
Approved back in April, the FNQ DAMA, which covers the Cassowary Coast, the Tablelands, Mareeba, Cairns and the Douglas Shire, can now be accessed by businesses facing local skills shortages, through the Cairns Chamber of Commerce.
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said the FNQ DAMA provides a tailored solution to businesses in the region to fill skills gaps that can’t be filled by local workers.
“We’ll continue to work with regions around the country to ensure they can grow their local economy, with the help of the immigration system,” he said.
Local MP Warren Entsch said the DAMA will assist a range of industries including tourism, hospitality, agriculture, shipping and health and help to drive economic growth.
“This initiative will help fill the employment void across many sectors,” Mr Entsch said. “The FNQ DAMA recognises that our businesses need people to help grow our local economy.
“It is about backing our small businesses and ensuring they have access to workers so they can continue to thrive in a competitive world.”
Businesses may choose to apply through a registered migration agent, with the application process available through the Chamber website, which also hosts a list of the occupations available
“We are huge supporters of jobs for Australians and particularly locals first, but there are many businesses having difficulties in hiring and retaining skilled workers, and we encourage those businesses looking to fill the jobs they can’t currently fill to start putting their cases together now,” Chamber president Nick Loukas said.
“We have been given a cap of 200 applications for the first year, which we are anticipating will be easily reached.”
The Chamber, which has been working closely with the Department of Home Affairs, has employed a person experienced in migration to help implement the scheme.
Their role is also to support local businesses and their agents to clearly understand expectations and ensure a level playing field for those wanting to access the 200 places available in the first year.
Migrant workers cannot be paid less than an Australian would be paid for the same job, including under the terms of a DAMA.
Three new occupations were approved for inclusion, most notably in the agricultural sector, a huge industry in the region.
For select occupations under the FNQ DAMA, successful visa applicants may also be nominated for permanent resident visas after three years working in the region.
Formal information sessions for businesses and migration agents will be held in the second half of October.
Article published 16th September 2019