The Government will provide $19.4 million in funding over the next four years to support regional areas to attract skilled migrants.
Regional employers and skilled migrants wanting to live and work in regional areas will be given access to priority processing on visa applications.
Department of Home Affairs officials will also be deployed to regional communities to work directly with employers and communities experiencing critical skills shortages.
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said these initiatives will support regional employers to get the skilled workers they need to grow and develop their businesses.
“Our skilled visa programs are about supporting Australian businesses and creating opportunities for more Australians,” Mr Coleman said.
“There are a number of regions outside Sydney, Melbourne and South East Queensland who are calling out for skilled migrants. These regional initiatives will help these communities and local business attract migrants where they are needed most.”
Where Australian workers are not available, visa settings can be tailored to suit the needs of specific regions through tools such as Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs).
The Northern Territory recently signed its second DAMA agreement, and Warrnambool on Victoria’s Great South Coast is expected to sign one soon.
Mr Coleman said the Government is significantly expanding the DAMA program, with officials from the Department of Home Affairs already in discussions with a range of regions that are experiencing labour shortages to see whether a DAMA could be put in place to supplement the local workforce.
“Training and skilling Australians is one of our top priorities, but there is a need for additional workers to supplement the workforce, particularly in regional areas,” Mr Coleman said.
“DAMAs provide flexibility for regional employers to sponsor migrant workers, as well as incentives to migrants to live and work in regional areas, including by creating a pathway to permanent residence.
“There are economic gaps in regional areas which immigration can help to fill, and that is exactly what we are doing through these new or expanded measures.”
Information on visa options for regional communities and prospective regional migrants is available on the Department of Home Affairs website: www.homeaffairs.gov.au/regional