Joint media release with the Hon Phillip Thompson OAM MP
Townsville will benefit from access to more skilled workers following the signing of the landmark Townsville Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA).
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke said the Australian Government is committed to the success of Townsville and the North Queensland region.
“This agreement responds to regional economic challenges by opening the door to attract and settle more skilled workers into the region,” Minister Hawke said.
The Townsville DAMA covers 195 occupations across a broad range of sectors including manufacturing, health care and social assistance, transport, and professional, scientific and technical services.
Federal Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson said with the Townsville DAMA now in place, the diverse range of industries covered would be able to grow even more, making Townsville a key regional destination.
“Since unemployment has been so low recently, many businesses have raised with me the challenges of finding staff, whether it’s in hospitality, manufacturing or in other trades. The DAMA will help to fill those gaps,” Mr Thompson said.
“What’s important in all this is that no local will be overlooked for a job – employers will have to show that they’ve tried to hire a local, but haven’t been able to, to be able to access the DAMA,” he said.
Townsville Enterprise, a peak economic development and destination marketing organisation, is the Designated Area Representative. Townsville Enterprise will administer the process of accessing the Townsville DAMA which will open to businesses operating in any of the 9 Local Government Areas covered by the agreement - City of Townsville, Hinchinbrook Shire, Charters Towers Regional Council, Burdekin Shire, City of Mount Isa, Shire of Cloncurry, Shire of McKinlay, Shire of Richmond and Shire of Flinders. Local businesses can apply individually to access the DAMA from 1 July 2022.
Townsville Enterprise CEO Claudia Brumme-Smith thanked the Government for being an effective and proactive partner throughout the DAMA submission process.
“I have to thank Minister Hawke, and the Member for Herbert Phil Thompson for the collaborative way that they worked with us to get this DAMA secured in a timely manner,” Ms Brumme-Smith said.
“We have heard loud and clear from the business community in North Queensland that one of the biggest challenges they face is workforce availability,” she said.
“Right now there are 3,000 unfilled vacancies in North Queensland, so if we can help fill some of those with the DAMA, then that is a win for the business community,” Ms Brumme-Smith said.
Burdekin Regional Shire Mayor and Chair of the North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils, Lyn McLaughlin, said that it was not just business, but entire communities who would be rejuvenated by the agreement.
“The DAMA does more than just bring more extra workers to take the pressure of business owners in our region,” Cr McLaughlin said.
“The structure of the DAMA agreement means that when workers come here they can look at bringing their immediate families, and they will have avenues to permanent residency,” she said.
“Their kids will go to schools, they’ll join community and sporting clubs, and participate in the social fabric of the region,” Cr McLaughlin said.
Regional Development Australia Townsville and Northwest chair Frank Beveridge said the skills shortage is one of the key impediments to growth in the Mount Isa to Townsville corridor.
“With a number of projects about to start, it is vitally important there is an effective strategy in place to ensure we have the right skills and experience at the right time to bring these projects to fruition,” he said.
The Townsville DAMA is the latest of several DAMAs recently entered into across northern Australia, further highlighting the Government’s commitment to regional Australia.
It follows the recent decisions to approve changes to the Far North Queensland and Northern Territory DAMAs, and the implementation of new DAMAs for the Pilbara and East Kimberley.
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Designated Area Migration Agreement.