The individual worker cannot directly be a part of the DAMA labour agreement – it has to be applied based on the sponsorship provided by a business in the regional territory. DAMA allows a migrant worker to come and work in a regional territory if their occupation falls under the approved DAMA occupation list. This occupation list is much broader than the skilled worker occupation list and offers a better chance for an applicant to obtain an Australian visa.
DAMA list has the details of the occupations covered under the territory or region. It is an exhaustive list and accounts for labour shortage or skill shortage in a particular region that can hamper the working of businesses in that region. Based on the listed occupations, there are concessions offered, including PR eligibility, that can attract migrant workers and retain good talent. The advantage of DAMA is that it offers the DAMA designated employers in territories a greater chance to obtain a visa for skilled and semi-skilled workers in occupations not covered in the standard visa programs. All the DAMA lists are uploaded on Anzscosearch and can be searched with an ANZSCO code.
DAMA is an employee-sponsored visa programme that is designed to fulfil the labour shortage for designated occupations. The employer or sponsoring business needs to approach their area’s DAR or Designated Area Representative with their requirement for workers. This allows them to access the DAMA and get details of listed occupations and concessions. Based on their requirement of workers, they need to apply to DAR for endorsement as the necessary first step. Their application is carefully scrutinised by the DAR, and if approved, it issues a letter of endorsement and notifies the department.
Once it receives the letter of endorsement from the DAR, the business enters into a DAMA labour contract with the department. The department evaluates the DAMA application and approves it. Once the approval is received, the business can nominate foreign employees under the program. The employee can now file for a specific work visa under the labour agreement stream.
The advantage of the DAMA framework for foreign workers in Australia is that it offers the workers relaxation or concessions in the terms & conditions that are not available in a standard skilled worker visa. There is a great demand for both skilled and semi-skilled workers in the regional territories and this opens a window of opportunity for foreign workers to find work matching their skills and paves the way to apply for a permanent residency in Australia after a few years. They also have access to Medicare and quality education for children. However, according to the DAMA labour agreement, they have to restrain their work within the regional territory, which are still developing compared to the main Australian cities.