Far North Queensland DAMA: 2021 Changes Announced

Significant changes have been made to the Cairns-based, Far North Queensland Designated Area Migration Agreement (FNQ DAMA). Several of the main changes that came into effect on 18 June 2021 include:

  • Addition of 110 new occupations

The FNQ DAMA Occupation List now includes 110 additional occupations.  This brings the total number of FNQ DAMA occupations to 164 and gives FNQ businesses access to a much broader international workforce.  New occupations have been added to alleviate a wide range of critical staff shortages in Cairns and across the Far North Queensland region.  Examples of these additional skilled and semi-skilled occupations include Camera Operator, Childcare Group Leader, Commercial Housekeeper, Hotel or Motel Receptionist, Nursing Support Worker, Sports Coach, Waiter & Web Developer.

  • Inclusion of Seven (7) Non-ANZSCO Occupations

Seven new non-ANZSCO occupations have been created and included as part of the 110 new occupations that have been added to the FNQ DAMA Occupation list. These specifically tailored occupations include Bar Attendant (Supervisor), Brewer, Night Auditor, Housekeeping (Supervisor), Waiter (Supervisor), Diving Instructor (Tourism or photography) and Marine Environment Interpreter. These new occupations have been created and included to help meet specific skills shortages being experienced by businesses within the FNQ DAMA region.

  • A permanent visa pathway for 96% of Occupations

An increased number of occupations will now have access to a permanent visa pathway. Only six of the lowest skilled (Level 5) occupations will not have access to a permanent visa pathway. The result of this is that the vast majority of applicants that decided to migrate to the Cairns and FNQ region and participate in the FNQ DAMA program will be rewarded with the option of obtaining permanent residency.

  • Increased age limit of 55 years for Skill Level 1 Occupations

Highly skilled professionals (Skill Level 1) such as Accountants, Auditors, Engineers, Healthcare professionals, Scientists & ICT Professionals that are older than the usual skilled migration age limit of 45 years will now benefit from a new age concession that increases the maximum age of a visa applicant to 55 years. Increasing the age limit to 55 aims to attract highly skilled and experienced professionals to the FNQ Region that would not otherwise have access to a permanent visa pathway due to their age.

  • Increased age limit of 50 for Skill Level 2-4 Occupations

An age limit concession of 50 is also available to all the remaining occupations (skill levels 2-4)  that have access to a permanent visa pathway.

  • Relaxed skill, qualification and experience assessment criteria

Some applicants will only need to demonstrate a minimum set period of 20 hours per week of “relevant” work experience instead of the previous minimum requirement of “post-qualification” work experience. Occupations are separated into seven (7) different groups and each group has distinct assessment criteria.

  • Expansion of the FNQ Designated Area to include Cape York & Torres Strait

The FNQ DAMA Designated Area has been expanded to include the local council areas of Cairns, Douglas, Mareeba, Tablelands, Cook, Cassowary, Torres Shire Council local government area and the Weipa Town Authority area.

  • Reduction of the experience required for certain occupations

The minimum work experience that is required for most occupations has been reduced. As an example, a Cook previously required 2 years of full-time post-qualification work experience. This has been reduced to 1.5 years of 20 hours per week or 1 year of 35 hours per week of relevant work experience. A similar reduction in the minimum work-experience requirement has been applied to most occupations.

Further benefits of the FNQ DAMA, such as minimum English language and minimum salary concessions remain in effect.

These wide-ranging changes will support the Far North Queensland employers and the regional economy by attracting a broader range of internationally qualified skilled and semi-skilled workers to the region. These changes aim to alleviate the critical skills shortage that the Cairns and the broader FNQ region is suffering as it emerges from the economic impact caused by the pandemic.

Contact Us for more information

You can read more about the FNQ DAMA.

For details of the full FNQ DAMA Occupation list refer to the FNQ DAMA Occupation List

If you are a business operating in Far North Queensland or you are an employee that has been offered a job in Cairns or the FNQ region and you have any questions about the FNQ DAMA and how it may apply to your circumstances, feel free to Contact Us.  Our team was instrumental in the initial establishment of the FNQ DAMA. We specialise in supporting both business and employees throughout the entire application process