Northern Territory and Federal governments have struck a deal to overcome labour shortages with a new migration agreement

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has finalised guidelines for Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA) which will stimulate local economies providing more business and job opportunities for Australians in areas experiencing labour and skills shortages, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash stated.

Where employers within the agreement area are unable to recruit Australian workers, DAMAs can support them to supplement their workforce with skilled overseas workers.

If businesses cannot access labour then they cannot create more jobs for Australians. Targeted skilled migration under the DAMA guidelines will provide incentives to grow businesses and local economies for the benefit of Australians.

DAMAs are designed to ensure employers recruit Australians as a first priority and prioritise initiatives and strategies to facilitate the recruitment and retention of Australian workers.

Contrary to reports, no one employed under the DAMA guidelines will be paid less than the relevant award paid to an Australian worker.

The 457 minimum salary threshold (or TSMIT), which is $53 900, applies to workers under DAMAs. TSMIT is the entry level salary for the 457 program and is well above the award wage for Australians.

Under DAMAs an up to 10 per cent salary concession would only apply to the TSMIT – so the minimum wage could only be $48,510.

Even with a discount applied overseas workers will be paid well above the relevant award for the jobs they do.

Unions are also concerned that the standard English requirement is being relaxed, however Senator Cash defended the change and said lower standards on English language tests are acceptable. She stated that, “Currently you need to receive a score of five in all test components. After considerable consultation, quite literally across the board, the Government has decided that we are prepared to say instead of receiving a five in all four test components, we accept that you can receive an overall score of five but you cannot go less than 4.5 in any one of those components.

“So for example, you will often find a person does the ILTEP [International Test of English Language Proficiency] test, they might get six, six, 5.5 and 4.5. That is a fail.

“We say that is unfair – you should be able to average out the six, six, 5.5 and 4.5, you will come up with a figure in excess of five.”

A pilot agreement is being finalised with the Northern Territory Government to cover areas where it has been difficult to obtain Australian workers.

Alliance International Migration Services (AIMS) is available to assist sponsors and employees located in Northern Territory interested to apply under the DAMA.  Please contact us today for a no-obligation chat on +61 3 9078 6819 or Alternatively, visit for more information, including details of our temporary visa credentials, fixed price offering and free online assessment option.