New funding of $19.4 million is to be provided by the Australian Government to attract skilled migrants to take up jobs and move to regional Australia in the next four years and encouraged to become permanent residents.

Immigration Minister David Coleman has announced that regional employers and skilled migrants wanting to live and work in regional areas will be given access to priority processing on visa applications.

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Department of Home Affairs officials will also be deployed to regional communities to work directly with employers and communities experiencing critical skills shortages and support given to 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. 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,' said Coleman.

It means that where Australian workers are not available, visa settings will 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.

Coleman explained that the Government is significantly expanding the DAMA programme, 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,' he 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,' he pointed out.

'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,' he added.