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Migration Insights: Visa solutions for regional Australia

The total employment in Australia is projected to increase by 886,100 new positions by May 2023, and we are currently experiencing major skill shortages across a number of industries. As it is, employers are concerned with the lowest numbers in job applicants in years.

My colleague and Mullins’ immigration law expert, Corina Chen (MARN 1281043), explores the visa solutions that are available.

The situation is even worse in regional Australia, where (despite the demand) employers are unable to build their businesses as they cannot find the skilled staff that they need.

So, what can regional Australia do to address the growing job vacancies, and what are the incentives for migrants to live and work there?

To support regional employers to get the skilled workers they need to grow and develop their businesses, the Australian Government is significantly expanding the Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) framework as one of the solutions.

A DAMA is a framework designed to ensure employers recruit Australians as a first priority, and provides flexibility to employers in designated areas to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers if they are experiencing skill shortages in the Australian labour market.

Currently, the Northern Territory has a DAMA in place which allows employers in the Northern Territory to sponsor overseas workers for positions they are otherwise unable to fill with local labour. This applies to the whole of the Northern Territory and is tailored to address current and emerging labour market shortages and local terms and conditions of employment.

In Victoria, the Great South Coast region’s DAMA was announced on 10 December 2018 to provide opportunity for the region’s businesses to more easily find skilled workers.

In joint media releases on 21 March 2019, the following DAMAs were also announced:

  • For South Australia, the Adelaide City Technology and Innovation Advancement Agreement and Regional South Australia DAMA arrangements were accepted to help fill critical employment gaps and to drive economic growth.
  • Western Australia’s Goldfields region will benefit from a DAMA being signed with the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder to address the employment needs of the region in key roles where Australian workers are not available.

The Australian Government further announced on 20 March 2019 that they plan to incentivise migrants to settle outside the big cities by introducing two new regional visas in November 2019 for skilled overseas workers.

The new initiatives will include priority processing of applications and access to a wider range of skilled occupations. It will provide a pathway for migrants to apply for permanent residency status after three years of living and working in regional Australia. New tertiary scholarships will be introduced to attract both Australian and international students to study in regional Australia.

As competition for quality employees is at a peak, employers in regional Australia need to consider the new initiatives being introduced as well as adopt existing visa solutions that are available to look beyond Australia for skilled workers.

Whether you are an Australian business seeking to fill a vacant position, or an overseas worker who wants to contribute your skills, we can assist in finding the best migration solutions to benefit all parties involved.

We are keen to assist anyone who would like to explore the migration/visa options more fully.

If you have any specific questions, please direct them to Corina direct on 07 3224 0364 or cchen@mullinslawyers.com.au.

Article by Corina Chen (Senior Associate), as seen in the April Edition of the QHA Review

"The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication."