A Vietnamese restaurant is the first Far North Queensland business to be granted streamlined access to overseas workers under the region’s new Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA).
For occupations where there are skills shortages, the agreement makes it easier to bring in migrant labour than the skilled visa program.
Pho Street Cairns has employed a restaurant supervisor under the scheme.
“This is a red letter day for our city and our region,” said Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch.
“Without the DAMA it’s been impossible to meet the needs of our local businesses.
“What the new restaurant supervisor has provided here is totally legitimate, authentic Vietnamese cuisine and we’re going to see this across the whole stretch, particularly in the hospitality area.”
Part owner of the restaurant, Hui Mai, said he hadn’t had success in finding a local to fill the position, despite a long search for an Australian-based candidate.
“We’ve got a few applicants but none of them have had the experience of running a restaurant and also being able to communicate our cuisine so applicants from Australia haven’t been able to fill the requirements of the job, they haven’t been what we’re looking for,” he said.
“Obviously from the way we cook it, to the way we prepare it, the way we serve it is different from western culture.”
There are 70 positions on the FNQ DAMA occupation list, with everything from motor mechanics to child care workers, agricultural technicians, dental assistants and boat builders included.
One of the key features of the scheme is that it offers opportunities for permanent residency.
“The 482 visas are not a pathway to residence in this country and when you’ve got people here with a skill set you need the last thing you want to do is keep turning them over,” Mr Entsch said.
“This allows employers to retain skilled staff over the long term.”
John Young from Immigration Agency said Pho Street Cairns’ successful application will be the first of many.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I can tell you that up here in the Far North there are lots of shortages that people don’t recognise, that people don’t see,” he said.
“I think this is great for the Far North.”