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  • Writer's pictureTony Simpson

From the RDA Pilbara CEO: April 2024

Wednesday April 3 marks a significant occasion for RDA Pilbara, with the launch of the Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) in Newman.

Since its introduction in Karratha and Port Hedland in early 2022, the DAMA has offered much-needed alternative pathways for businesses seeking key workers and helped increase the diversity of our Pilbara communities.

Some 85 businesses have applied to be involved in the DAMA and the program reached a new milestone in January with extension into the Shire of East Pilbara.

There are now 135 occupations represented on the DAMA list and the 634 people endorsed so far reflect some of the most in-demand skills and services in the Pilbara – including 137 child care workers, 62 tyre fitters, 41 crane, hoist or lift operators and 37 truck drivers.

But statistics tell only a portion of the DAMA story and the positive impact it is having throughout our region.

RDA Pilbara’s involvement with the DAMA – as the representative body endorsing businesses for sponsorship – reflects a nice cross-section of our charter to support the development of the Pilbara.

On one level, the DAMA addresses growth in the capacity of our businesses and industries by providing workers for roles that otherwise simply wouldn’t be filled.

The Pilbara’s child care challenges are well-known and being able to fill roles in that industry helps unlock productivity benefits throughout the region’s economies.

As one child care operator has told us:

“Having access to the DAMA candidates has enabled us to offer places for an additional 53 children across the Pilbara region. Without access to these visas, we would have had to close rooms and reduce the numbers of children accessing care.”

However, the positive benefits of the DAMA are far more holistic than filling jobs and boosting economic activity.

By helping new people and their families move here from other places around the world, the DAMA adds to the diverse and multicultural communities for which the Pilbara is already renowned.

And because the occupations within the DAMA have pathways to permanent residency, the community benefits will be long-term. I'm sure we'll see future Pilbara community leaders emerge from the amazing people who are arriving here because of the DAMA.

As RDA Pilbara Chair Nerida Kickett noted in her March column, these are incredibly exciting times in the Pilbara, with global opportunities in clean energy over the next few decades that will grow economic diversity and ensure prosperity and positive social outcomes flow through to all of our communities.

In combination with efforts to train and develop skilled local workforces, initiatives such as the DAMA will help make sure the potential in these opportunities is fully realised.

We look forward to seeing the DAMA deliver tangible outcomes in years ahead for the Shire of East Pilbara.

We’ve been told quite a few DAMA applications are already in the works there, so things are off to a great start!

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