Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA) are a way to recognise that parts of Australia have unmet skills needs and find it challenging to attract the right workers – from Australia or overseas.

These agreements acknowledge that different regions have different workforce needs. They provide migration settings which are tailored to address current labour market shortages and local employment conditions for specific regions.

Designated Area Migration Agreements are a tool to unlock investment, grow productivity and sustainably build South Australia’s population. They can provide employers with maximum flexibility to respond to local market conditions within the legislative and regulatory framework of the migration program. 

These agreements will allow South Australian employers in our key growth industries to sponsor skilled overseas workers for positions they are unable to fill with local workers. An employer-sponsored visa program, the Agreements:

  • Ensure that migration settings meet local labour market needs and conditions, including skill shortages, salary and English requirements
  • Include occupations which are not currently eligible under the general migration program

How will they work?

To employ an overseas worker under the Designated Area Migration Agreement, a business will need to apply for endorsement from Immigration SA.

Businesses will need to demonstrate that they are operating and located in South Australia, are a viable business, and have no history of not meeting their obligations to employees, and provide evidence of their workforce needs.

Businesses have to demonstrate that they cannot fill the position locally with Australian citizens, by providing evidence of their local recruitment efforts.

If endorsed, the business then applies for a Labour Agreement with the Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs. 

The business must identify an overseas worker, and verify that they are suitably skilled and experienced for an occupation included in the DAMA, and submit a nomination for each worker.

The Commonwealth Government have committed to priority processing for visas sponsored under a DAMA.

What are the safeguards?

DAMAs are designed to ensure employers recruit Australians citizens and permanent residents as a first priority.

Employers must provide evidence that they have advertised and been unable to fill positions with local workers, and provide evidence that the role cannot be undertaken by an apprentice or trainee.

The rights of overseas workers are also protected. Businesses accessing the Agreement will have to provide evidence of how they are maintaining a fair work environment, how they are remunerating workers appropriately and ensuring the conditions of employment are consistent with Australian law and practice.  


Consultation with a range of industry peak bodies was undertaken to shape our agreement with the Commonwealth. They include:

  • Regional Development Associations
  • Australian Hotels Association
  • AusVeg SA
  • Committee for Adelaide
  • Thomas Foods International
  • Potatoes SA
  • Baking industry representatives
  • Health, aged care and disability care employers
  • Master Builders Association
  • SA Chamber of Mines and Energy
  • SA Tourism Commission
  • Motor Trades Association
  • Naval Shipbuilding College
  • Australian Submarine Corporation
  • Film, VFX and gaming industry representatives


The South Australian Regional Workforce Agreement is designed to meet the skill and labour needs in regional South Australia's most significant industries: 
Agriculture, horticulture, forestry, wine and food processing 

  • Tourism and hospitality 
  • Health care and social services 
  • Mining and construction 

Combined, these industries are the most valuable, fastest growing and have the strongest labour demands of all industries operating in regional South Australia. 

Regional employers in agribusiness, and employers located anywhere in South Australia in tourism, health and mining can potentially access the DAMA.
Currently, major regional employers with planned expansions, upgrades and major projects are held back by being unable to access a suitable workforce. 

This Agreement will support population growth in regional South Australia, through including new occupations which are not available in the current migration program.

Critical skills shortages that will be addressed through the DAMA are in:

  • Agriculture and production horticulture, such as farm managers and irrigation specialists.
  • Meat processing
  • Forestry and timber, including production managers
  • Health care and social services, including some of the fastest growing occupations like aged and disability carers

This Designated Area Migration Agreement will add new occupations for skilled migrants where a local worker cannot be found.

The Agreement also gives employers concessions to the standard skilled visa requirements, for both the new occupations and those already on the skilled occupation list. These vary from occupation to occupation, but include:

  • Up to a ten percent reduction in the salary threshold of $53,900 (which is nationally set), and will be applied in cases where it aligns with local market rates, which better reflects the salaries for these occupations in regional areas of Australia.
  • A reduction in the English Language requirement to an overall score of IELTS 4.5  from 
  • Increasing the age limit from 44 to 50
  • Concessions to the skills assessment, for example, not requiring farming occupations to hold a bachelors degree if they have sufficient relevant work experience.
  • Pathway to permanent residence for selected visas and occupations, which will act as an incentive to attract and retain overseas workers, and ensure businesses can realise their investments in training and upskilling staff.


Adelaide is positioning to become a world-class centre for science, space, defence, technology, innovation, advanced manufacturing, creativity and entrepreneurialism. 

Driving this are the following initiatives: 

  • Naval Ship Building Plan 
  • Lot Fourteen 
  • Australian Space Agency
  • GigCity Network, 
  • Film, VFX and gaming 

To capitalise on these initiatives, Adelaide will need a highly skilled workforce. Key capabilities and skills to be supported through the DAMA where they are not available locally include: 

  • Science: astronomy, physics, material science, weather systems and climate science, oceanography, hydrography, geology 
  • Technology: additive manufacturing, optics, lasers, computer science, quantum computing and machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence, designers 
  • Engineering: communications, electrical, biomedical, mechanical, civil, systems, power and agricultural engineering 
  • Mathematics: data analytics, statistics, econometrics, financial and other mathematical modelling. 
  • Management: senior managers, project managers, planners, foremen, team leaders 
  • Technical: design, drafting/computer-aided design (CAD), steelworker, metal fabricators, welders, electricians, carpenters, machinists. 

The DAMA will allow concessions which will address specific challenges, including widening the age eligibility for occupations where a considerable amount of experience may be required

20 Mar 2019

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