The Northern Territory has had it special visa arrangement to attract skilled workers from abroad for jobs where there are shortages extended and the number of occupations increased.

The Australian Government has announced a second Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) which aims to increase the number of appropriate skilled workers to be allocated visas to work in the region over the next five years.

Skilled Workers

Photo by Syda Productions/​

The DAMA also offers pathways to permanent residency for DAMA visa holders as part of a national policy to support the skills needs of regional Australia where Australian workers are not available to fill jobs.

'The Northern Territory has seen first-hand the benefits of using a Designated Area Migration Agreement to respond to their unique workforce shortages,' said Immigration Minister David Coleman.

Senator for the Northern Territory, Nigel Scullion, said that it desperately needs more workers across a range of occupations and the DAMA will assist businesses who are struggling to find appropriately skilled workers domestically.

Meanwhile, Northern Territory Minister for Workforce Training, Selena Uibo, explained that the first DAMA had helped a number of businesses fill positions they were unable to fill with local workers, in areas such as childcare, tourism and hospitality.

'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,' she pointed out.

'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,' she added.

She also explained that the new agreement would complement the Territory Government's recently released population strategy, a comprehensive plan to boost the Territory's population.

'Everyone benefits when we attract more people to the Territory. More people means more jobs, a stronger economy and more GST revenue, which means better schools, better hospitals, and more police,' said Uibo.

The landmark first DAMA between the Federal and Northern Territory 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.

Historically, migration of overseas nationals to the Northern Territory has been a key contributor to economic growth, population growth and social diversity.