A new visa agreement for the Great South Coast region in the Australian State of Victoria has been introduced to attract more skilled workers from overseas.

It means that employers in Victoria will be among the first in Australia to enter into a five-year arrangement between the Commonwealth and Warrnambool City Council as part of an overall policy to help regions with labour shortages attract people from around the world with the skills needed.


Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs) will be put in place to supplement the local workforce in key sectors such as agriculture, hospitality and other businesses that can show they have critical employment gaps.

Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Ministers 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 Government is working to improve our immigration program to better match the needs of specific locations. In particular, we are looking closely at ways of filling employment gaps in regional areas. The Great South Coast region has been calling out for workers for some time,' he added.

According to the area's MP Dan Tehan, employers and communities throughout Glenelg, Moyne, Warrnambool, Corangamite, Colac-Otway and Southern Grampians have been searching for the workers to help theregion grow.

'Earlier this year, our councils took a delegation to Canberra reinforcing what our employers have been saying about the need for workers to help them, and our region, to grow. We're one of Australia's leading agricultural regions, and this agreement will help us produce more, sell more and export more,' he added.

For a DAMA to be approved by the Commonwealth, regions must demonstrate efforts to recruit Australians first and clearly identify labour market conditions and gaps. They must also demonstrate local support available to migrant workers.

Warrnambool City Council Mayor Tony Herbert described the DAMA was a tremendous initiative to help overcome the skill shortages. 'We're thrilled to have a DAMA in place and to be an early adopter of this employment solution,' he pointed out.

'And of course being also a pathway to possible permanent residency makes this a very attractive proposition for prospective workers and for the population growth of our region. Importantly the DAMA is a bespoke arrangement for our region and addresses our particular skill shortages,' he explained.

'People should also be reassured that every effort is required to be made to fill vacancies locally before the DAMA is used to attract skilled workers from outside the region,' he added.

The 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 Western Australia, Cairns in far North Queensland, and the Orana region in central New South Wales.