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Local Migration Agreements To Provide Economic Boosts

Local Migration Agreements To Provide Economic Boosts

australian_flagThe Department of Immigration and Border Protection has finalised guidelines for Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA) which will stimulate local economies providing more business and job opportunities for Australians in areas experiencing labour and skills shortages, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash said last week.

The DAMA proposal, commenced under the former Labor government as regional migration agreements, has been developed after extensive negotiations with state and territory governments and other stakeholders including labour unions.

It is important to be clear that these agreements require employers to pay workers at least the same wage as Australian workers.

Where employers within the agreement area are unable to recruit Australian workers, DAMAs can support them to supplement their workforce with skilled overseas workers.

If businesses cannot access labour then they cannot create more jobs for Australians. Targeted skilled migration under the DAMA guidelines will provide incentives to grow businesses and local economies for the benefit of Australians.

DAMAs are designed to ensure employers recruit Australians as a first priority and prioritise initiatives and strategies to facilitate the recruitment and retention of Australian workers.

Contrary to reports in this morning’s Australian newspaper, no one employed under the DAMA guidelines will be paid less than the relevant award paid to an Australian worker.

The 457 minimum salary threshold (or TSMIT), which is $53 900, applies to workers under DAMAs. TSMIT is the entry level salary for the 457 program and is well above the award wage for Australians.

Under DAMAs an up to 10 per cent salary concession would only apply to the TSMIT – so the minimum wage could only be $48,510.

Even with a discount applied overseas workers will be paid well above the relevant award for the jobs they do.

All conditions including normal award provisions continue to apply.

  • DAMAs do not permit overseas workers to undercut Australian workers: overseas workers must be provided with terms and conditions no less favourable than Australian employees
  • DAMAs do not allow entry of unqualified overseas workers: overseas workers must hold appropriate qualifications and experience, and meet any registration and licensing arrangements
  • DAMAs do not allow employers to substitute Australian workers with overseas workers: employers must show that they have sought to recruit Australian workers within the previous six months
  • DAMAs do not allow employers to avoid training Australians. Employers participating in a DAMA must meet subclass 457 sponsorship obligations, including training benchmarks
  • DAMAs do not allow employers to bring in unskilled overseas workers. Overseas workers must be skilled or semi-skilled.

Any DAMA request must be endorsed by the relevant State or Territory government before the department would consider an application. Unions, business and community stakeholders must be consulted prior to requesting a DAMA.

The principles underpinning DAMAs include providing opportunities for Australians first, maintaining a fair work environment and comprehensive consultation.

A pilot agreement is being finalised with the Northern Territory Government to cover areas where it has been difficult to obtain Australian workers.

In line with the Coalition Government’s approach to all skilled migration programmes, any DAMA will supplement rather than substitute Australian workers.

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.

Immigration and Border Protection Australia