Update on the migration landscape in the COVID-19 environment
As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt globally, the Territory has well and truly secured its position as the safest place in Australia, with a low number of cases and no community transmission. While we have reason to be optimistic as to the Territory’s capacity to recover and grow its economy, the NT Government is keenly aware of the many challenges that the pandemic environment has brought on businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector.
The uncertainties in the migration landscape have placed enormous pressure on employers and workers alike. The team at MigrationNT has continued to assist NT employers with information on relevant concessions and visa programs. Of the highest priority at this stage is the ongoing negotiation with the Department of Home Affairs around the effective operation of the NT Designated Area Migration Agreement (NT DAMA).
The NT DAMA has thus far, been a successful, tailored program that provided NT employers with greater access to overseas workers to fill skill shortages. The rising national unemployment figures have seen a change in the approach to decision making by the Department of Home Affairs. Over-reliance on overseas workers is a common reason for refusal. It is also of concern that the list of eligible occupations is currently being reviewed in line with current labour market needs. MigrationNT is preparing a submission to the Department of Home Affairs advocating for the special needs of the Territory to be given due consideration. Feedback from the roundtable discussion hosted by Hospitality NT on 16 November will feature strongly in our submission.
In this new environment, there will continue to be a heavy focus on the premise of ‘jobs for Australians first’, and employers who seek to sponsor overseas workers will be required to demonstrate their efforts to train local workers and evidence genuine efforts to reduce reliance on overseas workers.
The NT Government understands that recruitment and retention of staff continues to be a pressing issue for the industry and will continue to push for more a more flexible approach to assessment of applications from NT employers.
Pompea Sweet, Director of Migration NT