Difficulties faced by businesses applying for Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs) in Northern Territory

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Difficulties faced by businesses applying for Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs) in Northern Territory

Businesses in the Northern Territory have slammed the Federal Government for unnecessary delays and red tape which they say is affecting the ability of businesses to get the skilled foreign workers they urgently need.

In February 2014, the Federal Government announced an independent review of the 457 visa worker program and then in May relaxed the English language competency requirement for foreign workers.

In August the Commonwealth announced a brand new initiative – the Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs) sub class of 457 visas which would apply only in the NT and for certain occupations such as truck drivers, childcare workers, and hospitality staff.

It was hoped foreign workers would be more willing to move to Darwin.  According to an ABC report, months later 17 NT businesses have been endorsed by the NT Department of Business to apply for DAMAs. But only three DAMAs have been granted.

“When the process is started, you can’t get any response out of them” the Northern Territory’s Australian Hotel’s Association CEO Des Crowe told the ABC. “Initially we were quite enthusiastic when it was introduced last year but we’ve had quite a few difficulties with the process,” adding that mistakes such as typos and spelling errors could make an application void. He said that has had “major problems’ dealing with the DIBP


He said its ‘red tape gone mad’ when it comes to dealing with the department of immigration. Despite using an RMA, he told the ABC that the process of applying for the workers and meeting the paperwork requirements was exhausting.  Chamber of Commerce NT chief executive Greg Bicknell said the DAMA program was key to developing the north but said there were “a lot of hoops” for businesses to jump through.

“They’ve got to test the local labour market. They’ve got to be contributing to the cost of training in the local area. Then there’s the skills of the person that have to be verified,” he said.  He said the paperwork could be too onerous for “small dynamic businesses” that have few back office staff and the paper work could take months.  “It’s very difficult to find staff in the Northern Territory right now.  “We require a large population to sustain better business development.”

Source: Migration Alliance

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