The Northern Territory population is set to receive a boost with the signing of a new five year bilateral agreement that will increase the flow of migrants to fill skills shortages.
The Federal Government and Northern Territory Governments will sign a new five year Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) this week, ahead of the expiration of the first DAMA on December 31.
DAMA II broadens the range of occupations identified as suffering skilled worker shortages in the Territory, as well as offering pathways to permanent residency for DAMA visa holders, in a bid to attract more skilled migrants to the Territory.
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said the Government is committed to supporting the skills needs of regional Australia where Australian workers are not available to fill those jobs.
“The NT has seen first-hand the benefits of using a Designated Area Migration Agreement to respond to their unique workforce shortages,” Mr Coleman said.
“I am pleased that we can continue to partner with the NT Government in a DAMA arrangement and help areas in the territory grow and flourish,” he said.
CLP Senator for the NT, Nigel Scullion said this migration agreement was another example of the Federal Coalition Government delivering for Territorians.
“The Territory desperately needs more workers across a range of occupations and the DAMA will assist Territory businesses who are struggling to find appropriately skilled workers domestically.”
NT Minister for Workforce Training, Selena Uibo said the first DAMA had helped a number of Territory businesses fill positions they were unable to fill with local workers, in areas such as childcare, tourism and hospitality, and DAMA II had broadened the field of occupations to ensure the agreement was contemporary.
“The Territory Labor Government’s number one priority is creating local jobs,” Ms Uibo said.
“Training and skilling Territorians is one of our top priorities but there is a need for additional workers to supplement the workforce.
“Access to, and retention of, a suitably skilled workforce is a key issue for many employers and our government recognises the need to support labour force recruitment for local businesses.
“Employers struggling to fill any of the 117 skilled and semi-skilled occupations identified as being in shortage will need to demonstrate they are unable to employ a suitably skilled and experienced Australian to fill a position, before applying to sponsor an overseas worker.”
Ms Uibo said the new agreement would complement the Territory Labor Government’s recently released population strategy, a comprehensive plan to boost the Territory’s population.
“Every Territorian benefits when we attract more people to the Territory,” she said.
“More people means more jobs, a stronger economy and more GST revenue, which means better schools, better hospitals, and more police.”
The landmark first DAMA between the Federal and NT Governments was the first of its kind to offer a broader range of occupations to employers than is available through standard skilled migration programs, within the designated geographical area of the NT.
Historically, migration of overseas nationals to the NT has been a key contributor to economic growth, population growth and social diversity.
The Federal Government is currently in discussions with a range of other regions around the country experiencing skill shortages, including the Pilbara and the Kalgoorlie-Boulder regions in WA, Cairns in far North Queensland, and the Orana region in central NSW. Warrnambool on Victoria’s south-west coast is expected to have a DAMA in place before the end of the year.