Migration agreements for South Australia

In good news for South Australia, two Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs) have been announced.

However, consequences of migration policies announced by both major parties in the leadup to this Saturday’s election may lead to some uncertainty around migration issues for South Australia for some time.

The first DAMA is an Innovation and Technology agreement covering the metropolitan area and 60 occupations ranging from spatial scientists to construction project managers.

The second is a South Australia Regional Workforce Agreement, which includes metropolitan and country areas and covers 114 occupations in industries such as agribusiness, health and aged care, hospitality and tourism, mining and construction sectors.

Details of the application process is expected to be released on 1 July so at this stage we don’t know how expensive or cumbersome the process will be which in turn will have an impact on how many employers take up this opportunity.

The DAMAs will enable South Australian employers to sponsor skilled overseas workers for positions they are unable to fill with local workers. About 1000 positions can be filled in the first year.

DAMA Concessions
Pleasingly, the DAMAs include a number of concessions for specific occupations that are important to our State including:

  • A reduction in the minimum wage threshold (TSMIT) of up to 10%. This is important as current levels are based on national averages and therefore skewed towards the eastern states. On average, South Australians earn $56,000 a year compared with $66,000 in New South Wales, $62,000 in Victoria and $76,000 in the Australian Capital Territory.
  • Age concessions (at the moment migrants need to be under 45 to apply but this is being raised to 50 for country areas for some occupations where more experience is necessary and 55 in the metropolitan area)
  • English language concessions
  • Skills and experience concessions
  • Pathways to permanent residency for some occupations

Major party policies
Both a cut in skilled migrant minimum wages, announced by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, and a proposal to cap the migrant intake, announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, would be to the detriment of Adelaide and South Australia.

Under the Labor proposal, skilled migrant minimum wages would rise from $53,900 to $65,000 a year. While the Committee supports wage growth, regional communities also need to be catered for in a national system.

Likewise, the Liberal proposal to cap the migrant intake from 190,000 to 160,000 would likely reduce the pool of migrants for regional areas.

Cities such as Sydney and Melbourne are struggling to keep up with population growth while regional areas and smaller capital cities need more people so it’s important that both parties commit to a system that supports population distribution across the country.

The Committee for Adelaide has fought hard for these DAMAs, meeting with Ministers in Canberra and advocating for changes locally and is pleased our voice has been heard.

We would like to thank our members – particularly Migration Solutions, Deloitte and Bespoke Approach who joined us in Canberra – as well as industry associations who have fed information through to us as well as directly to government to help inform these DAMAs as well as government representatives who took on the enormous task of preparing the agreements in an incredibly short timeframe.

We will continue to advocate for a fairer migration system for South Australia but in the meantime, more details about the DAMA agreements can be found on Immigration South Australia’s website.