Northern Territory strengthens immigration program

An additional 36 occupations are now available to overseas nationals wanting to live in the Northern Territory, following a new bilateral migration agreement signed earlier this week.

The second Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) between the Northern Territory Government and the Federal Government identifies 117 shortage occupations where employers can recruit skilled migrants if they are unable to fill positions locally.

Unlike the first ground-breaking agreement between the two jurisdictions, visa holders of the new DAMA can now apply for permanent residency after working in the Territory for at least three years.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the addition of the pathway to permanent residency in the new DAMA gave skilled migrants a big incentive to move to the NT and stay long-term.

“The Territory Labour Government’s number one priority is jobs for Territorians but we know access to, and retention of, a suitably skilled workforce is a key issue for many employers and there is a need for additional workers,” Mr Gunner said.

“We also know that more people moving to the Territory equals more jobs. The Territory Labour Government fought hard for the inclusion of the pathway to permanent residency in this new five-year agreement, which we expect to significantly increase the number of skilled migrants moving to the Territory.”

Gunner continued: “The NT has a long and proud history of migration of overseas nationals and they have been a key contributor to economic growth, population growth and social diversity. This new agreement will help that continue.”

Federal Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said the new DAMA is an example of the Government using Australia’s migration program to benefit specific locations.

“The Government is working to improve our immigration program to better match the needs of our states, territories and regional areas,” Mr Coleman said.

“Our first priority is always to fill jobs with Australians, but the immigration system can play an important role in helping to address regional skills gaps. The NT has seen first-hand the benefits of using a DAMA to respond to their unique workforce shortages.”

Under DAMA II, employers must seek to hire Australian workers through conducting labour market testing before any overseas workers can be recruited.  Mr Gunner said the new agreement complements the Territory Government’s recently released population strategy, a comprehensive plan to attract people to live and work in the NT.

“Every Territorian benefits when we attract more people to the Territory,” Mr Gunner said.

“More people means more jobs and a stronger economy, which means better schools, better hospitals and more police.”

The first DAMA between the Federal and NT Governments was the first in Australia where a broader range of shortage occupations was available than those identified in standard skilled migration programs.

Article published 3rd January 2018