The benefits of DAMA Visa in New South Wales

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In regional Australia, and regional New South Wales there is a strong need for improved access to overseas workers on a sustainable basis where occupations and positions are not able to be filled from the Australian labour market.

The Orana DAMA is an agreement between the RDA Orana and the Federal Government that allows employers operating in the Orana, Central West, Southern Inland, Murray and Riverina RDA regions to access a broader range of occupations than standard skilled migration avenues, and with numerous concessions including experience, age, and in some cases salary and English. These arrangements help employers attract and retain the right people to our regions on a sustainable basis, where they have not been able to fill positions from the Australian labour market.

Employers requesting endorsement must have operations in the Designated Area, and the position/s being sought must be located within the operations of the employer within the Designated area.

Areas included in the Orana DAMA in New South Wales are:

  • Orana: Dubbo Regional, Mid-Western Regional, Narromine, Gilgandra, Warren, Coonamble, Warrumbungle, Walgett, Brewarrina, Bogan, Cobar and Bourke
  • Central West: Bathurst, Blayney, Cabonne, Cowra, Forbes, Lachlan, Lithgow, Oberon, Orange, Parkes and Weddin
  • Riverina:Bland, Carrathool, Coolamon, Cootamundra-Gundagai, Griffith, Hay, Junee, Leeton, Lockhart, Murrumbidgee, Narrandera, Snowy Valleys, Temora and Wagga Wagga
  • Murray:Albury, Balranald, Berrigan, Edward River, Federation, Greater Hume, Murray River, Wentworth and parts of the Snowy Valleys
  • Southern Island: Wingecarribee, Goulburn-Mulwaree, Upper Lachlan, Hilltops, Yass Valley, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Snowy Monaro

Why DAMA was created for the Regional NSW?

Skilled migrants are a steadily growing force in the Australian economy. With many industries experiencing critical skill and labour shortages across Australia, temporary skilled migrants have become central to supporting and supplementing the local workforce. The RDA Orana DAMA is helping to open the doors for migrant workers within the Orana region to meet the local labour market needs.

While there are other paths available to address these skill shortages, such as training and education programs, these options are often nowhere near fast enough. One of the key benefits of having a strong temporary skilled migrant program within Australia is how quickly and efficiently we can respond to these labour and skill shortages.

It can take Australians years to achieve the same qualifications that overseas workers already hold. In the meantime, temporary skilled workers can offer high-quality and highly relevant expertise immediately. 

DAMA, How it works for employers and their eligibilities

The business must:

  • be a registered Australian entity and have been actively operating for at least 12 months in the above Region
  • be able to show the capacity to employ the intended employee(s) for at least the length of the requested visa
  • have a history of compliance with all relevant workplace legislation (no adverse information).

The Orana DAMA DAR takes into consideration the needs of your workforce when considering your application. This includes factors such as:

  • your current and future workforce needs to determine which occupation(s) and concession(s) requested will be endorsed under the RDA Orana DAMA
  • how many positions can be nominated for each occupation and for each concession;

Businesses seeking to access additional overseas workers will need to apply to the Orana DAR for endorsement of additional positions.

Occupations

The Orana DAMA includes a diverse range of occupations tailored to the region’s economic needs, here the list of all 129 occupations:

Accounts Clerk, Aged or Disabled Carer, Agricultural and Horticultural Mobile Plant Operator, Agricultural Technician, Anaesthetist, Apiarist, Aquaculture or Fisheries Technician, Aquaculture Worker, Automotive Electrician, Backhoe Operator, Baker, Baking Factory Worker, Boiler or Engine Operator, Bookkeeper, Bricklayer, Bulk Materials Handling Plant Operator, Bulldozer Operator, Butcher or Smallgoods Maker, Cabinetmaker, Cafe or Restaurant Manager, Carpenter, Chef, Chemical Plant Operator, Child Care Group Leader, Child Care Worker, Civil Engineer, Clinical Psychologist, Computer Network and Systems Engineer, Construction Project Manager, Cook, Dairy Cattle Farmer, Dairy Products Maker, Delivery Driver, Dental Hygienist, Dentist, Diesel Motor Mechanic, Driller, Early Childhood (Pre-primary School) Teacher, Earthmoving Plant Operator (General), Electrical Engineer, Electrical Linesworker, Electrician (General), Electrician (Special Class), Emergency Medicine Specialist, Engineering Production Worker, Enrolled Nurse, Excavator Operator, Fitter (General), Fitter and Turner, Food Technologist, Forklift Driver, Fruit and Vegetable Packer, Fruit or Nut Picker, General Clerk, General Practitioner, Grader Operator, Grain Mill Worker, Grape Grower, Hair or Beauty Salon Manager, Horticultural Supervisor, Hospitality, Retail and Service Managers nec, Hotel or Motel Manager, Loader Operator, Manufacturer, Meat Boner and Slicer, Meat Process Worker, Mechanical Engineering Technician, Medical Laboratory Scientist, Medical Laboratory Technician, Metal Fabricator, Metal Fitters and Machinists nec, Metal Machinist (First Class), Miner, Mixed Crop and Livestock Farmer, Mixed Production Farm Workers nec, Mobile Plant Operators nec, Motor Mechanic (General), Nursing Support Worker, Occupational Therapist, Office Manager, Painting Trades Worker/ Painter, Panel Beater, Paper and Pulp Mill Operator, Paper Products Machine Operator, Pastry Cook, Payroll Clerk, Personal Assistant, Personal Care Assistant, Pharmacy Technician, Physiotherapist, Plumber (General), Poultry Farmer, Primary School Teacher, Printing Machinist, Production Manager (Manufacturing), Registered Nurse (Aged Care), Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency), Registered Nurse nec, Registered Nurse (Perioperative), Registered Nurse (Surgical), Resident Medical Officer, Residential Care Officer, Retail Pharmacist, Seafood Process Worker, Secondary School Teacher, Senior Broadacre Crop and Livestock Farm Worker, Senior Broadacre Crop Farm Worker, Security Officer, Slaughterer, Social Worker, Speech Pathologist, Stonemason, Storeperson, Surveying or Spatial Science Technician, Surveyor, Therapy Aide, Truck Driver – general, Vegetable Picker, Vehicle Painter, Veterinarian, Veterinary Nurse, Vocational Education Teacher, Waiter (Food and Beverage Attendant), Wall and Floor Tiler, Waste Water or Water Plant Operator, Welder (First Class), Welfare Worker, Wine Maker, Winery Cellar Hand

Specific criteria (skill level and industry sector)

The grouping of occupations under the Orana DAMA is organised based on various criteria such as skill level, industry needs, and specific qualifications or work experience required. This structured grouping helps tailor the DAMA to the specific economic and labor market needs of the South West region. Here’s a breakdown of how the occupations are typically grouped:

1. Skill Level Grouping

ANZSCO Skill Levels: Occupations are grouped according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) skill levels. These range from skill level 1 (which includes occupations that typically require a bachelor degree or higher qualification) down to skill level 5 (which includes occupations that may require a certificate I or compulsory secondary education).

Examples:

Skill Level 1: Occupations like Civil Engineers, General Practitioners.

Skill Level 5: Occupations like Dairy Cattle Farm Workers, Vineyard Workers.

Skill Level 1

Qualifications: Typically requires a bachelor degree or higher qualification. In some cases, at least five years of relevant experience and/or relevant vendor certification may substitute for the formal qualification. Examples: Professionals like Accountants, Engineers, Doctors, and Teachers.

Skill Level 2

Qualifications: Requires an Associate Degree, Advanced Diploma, or Diploma. At least three years of relevant experience may substitute for the formal qualifications. Examples: Associate professionals such as Technicians, Paralegals, and Hospitality Managers.

Skill Level 3

Qualifications: Requires a Certificate IV, Advanced Certificate, or Diploma. At least three years of relevant experience may substitute for the formal qualifications. On-the-job training might also be required. Examples: Tradespeople like Electricians, Chefs, and Office Managers.

Skill Level 4

Qualifications: Requires a Certificate II or III, which may include at least two years of on-the-job training, or at least three years of relevant experience may substitute for the formal qualifications. Examples: Personal Care Assistants, Motor Mechanics, and various Operator roles like Forklift and Excavator Operators.

Skill Level 5

Qualifications: Requires a Certificate I or compulsory secondary education, or short-period on-the-job training. In some cases, no formal qualification or experience is required, just basic training. Examples: Occupations like Farm Hands, Cleaners, and Kitchen Hands.

The benefits for Skill level 4 and 5

Under usual sponsor visa pathways, skill level 4 and 5 are normally not eligible for a visa; however, within a DAMA region, job occupations listed under sill level 4 and 5 have chances to apply for a visa.

Here a detailed list of job positions for skill level 4 and 5

Skill Level 4

  • Accounts Clerk
  • Aged or Disabled Carer
  • Agricultural and Horticultural Mobile Plant Operator
  • Backhoe Operator
  • Boiler or Engine Operator
  • Bulk Materials Handling Plant Operator
  • Bulldozer Operator
  • Delivery Driver
  • Driller
  • Earthmoving Plant Operator (General)
  • Engineering Production Worker
  • Excavator Operator
  • Forklift Driver
  • General Clerk
  • Grader Operator
  • Loader Operator
  • Meat Boner and Slicer
  • Miner
  • Mobile Plant Operators nec
  • Nursing Support Worker
  • Painting Trades Worker/ Painter
  • Panel Beater
  • Paper and Pulp Mill Operator
  • Paper Products Machine Operator
  • Payroll Clerk
  • Personal Care Assistant
  • Security Officer
  • Slaughterer
  • Storeperson
  • Therapy Aide
  • Truck Driver – general
  • Waiter (Food and Beverage Attendant)
  • Waste Water or Water Plant Operator

Skill Level 5

  • Aquaculture Worker
  • Baking Factory Worker
  • Dairy Products Maker
  • Fruit and Vegetable Packer
  • Fruit or Nut Picker
  • Grain Mill Worker
  • Meat Process Worker
  • Mixed Production Farm Workers nec
  • Seafood Process Worker
  • Vegetable Picker
  • Winery Cellar Hand

Orana DAMA NSW Concessions

Age Concession

For occupations classified as Skill Levels 1-4, you will enjoy an extended age limit of up to 55 years. For Skill Level 5 occupations, the age concession offers an extended limit of up to 50 years.

English Language Concession

For all skilled migration visas, the nominee is required to meet English language requirements. Visa applicants demonstrate their English language levels by undergoing accepted English language tests. Exemptions from testing apply for some applicants.

The concessions available for the English language will vary depending on the substantive visa being applied for under the DAMA. The Orana DAMA Occupation List shows the occupations where an English concession is available, further detail is outlined in the table below.

For the Occupations that are eligible for the English Language concession, the following applies:

  • TSS and SESR: average score of IELTS 5.0 with no minimum component (unless registration or licensing requires a higher level of English)
  • ENS: average score of IELTS 5.0 with no component being less than IELTS 4.0 or equivalent (unless registration or licensing requires a higher level of English).

Employers seeking an English concession for an occupation need to provide reasoning as part of their endorsement application. This should explain why a lower level of English language is acceptable for the requested occupation. Consideration should be given to how any workplace safety risks will be managed for workers with lower levels of English.

Qualification and Experience Requirements

Under the current RDA Orana DAMA, there is a range of skills and experience concessions available for different occupations. If no concession applies, a nominee must be able to meet the requirements of the substantive visa for which they are applying.

Occupations on the combined lists of eligible skilled occupations (skill levels 1-3)

Occupations between a Skill Level of 1-3 and are on certain skilled occupation lists as outlined here, which are on the eligible lists of skilled occupations (the Short-term Skilled Occupation List, (STSOL), Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List, (MLTSSL) or Regional Occupation List (ROL)), any nomination for these occupations or any application for a TSS, SESR or ENS visa connected with these occupations must satisfy the skills, qualifications and experience and employment background required under the standard TSS, SESR or ENS visa programs except:

  • Where the relevant AQF qualification was obtained in Australia, only one (1) year of relevant work experience (38 hours per week) is required for the TSS visa program; or 
  • Only two (2) years of relevant full-time work experience (38 hours per week) is required for the SESR visa program. 

Occupations not on the combined lists of eligible skilled occupations 

A skills assessment is required for applications lodged for the occupations listed here.

Some groups of occupations might have specific concessions related to age, English language proficiency, or salary thresholds, which are designed to make it easier to fill these roles under the DAMA.

TSMIT (Salary)

For some occupations, a reduction in the current Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) may apply. Where a business case can be made for the reduction, there are two concession types available:

  • Type 1: Reduced TSMIT – at least 90% of the current TSMIT
  • Type 2: At least reduced TSMIT and included non-monetary earnings (such as food and board) equal to no more than 10% of TSMIT

Please note that the TSMIT was increased to $73,150 from all new Nominations lodged since July 1, 2024.

Permanent Residency Pathway

For all occupations on the Orana DAMA Occupations list, a permanent residence pathway may be available through the ENS (subclass 186) visa, after having lived and worked in the Orana region for three years on a TSS visa granted under the Orana DAMA.

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The information provided is a general guide and does not constitute legal or immigration advice; there are many regulations that may apply depending on each individual’s circumstances alongside changes in the industry. It is the user’s responsibility to verify the currency of information. Those seeking advice should engage a MARA registered migration agent.

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