Attracting skilled migrants to regional parts of Australia will be backed by $19.4 million in federal government funding over the next four years.

Regional employers and skilled migrants wanting to live and work in regional areas will be given access to priority processing on visa applications.

Department of Home Affairs officials will also be deployed to regional communities to work directly with employers and communities experiencing critical skills shortages.

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said these initiatives will support regional employers to get the skilled workers they need to grow and develop their businesses.

Mr Coleman said the Government is significantly expanding the Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA) program, with officials from the Department of Home Affairs already in discussions with a range of regions that are experiencing labour shortages to see whether a DAMA could be put in place to supplement the local workforce.

“Training and skilling Australians is one of our top priorities, but there is a need for additional workers to supplement the workforce, particularly in regional areas,” Mr Coleman said.

“DAMAs provide flexibility for regional employers to sponsor migrant workers, as well as incentives to migrants to live and work in regional areas, including by creating a pathway to permanent residence.

Where Australian workers are not available, visa settings can be tailored to suit the needs of specific regions through tools such as DAMA.

The Northern Territory recently signed its second DAMA agreement, and Warrnambool on Victoria’s Great South Coast is expected to sign one soon.

Information on visa options for regional communities and prospective regional migrants is available here.