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Travel and Accommodation Support for Australian AAT observers
Individuals not registered for GST must submit all claims for travel support using the expense reimbursement form.
To claim expense reimbursement, all organisations registered for GST must submit an invoice and all observers not registered for GST must submit a completed Expense Reimbursement Form (available in Word or PDF format). Submissions must be made within 6 months of the completion of their observing run.
Please use these forms in all new travel claims (one payee per form, up to two observers). Note also that we no longer issue payments by cheque.
Note that this is to reimburse part or all of the travel expenses incurred whilst travelling to the telescope or to North Ryde. Meal costs are the obligation of the observers. As there have been no goods or services received/provided GST is non-applicable (out-of-scope).
We do not reimburse accommodation costs, rather such costs are paid directly by the AAO to the accommodation provider for eligible people (subject to approval). Requests must be made at the time of booking using the AAO's Visitor Form (Lens account required).
For each run involving Australian observers (people based at Australian institutions), the AAO will normally pay one astronomer and one student (at most) a fixed amount for travel (based on the cheapest mode of transport from their home institution) and Coonabarabran or Sydney accommodation costs (for the length of the run plus one night).
Detailed Rules for T&A
- Eligible observers: For Australian observers (observers based at Australian institutions), T&A will be provided for up to one astronomer and one student per observing run. T&A will not normally be provided for two astronomers at a time, but may be provided in exceptional cases for two students (no astronomer) with explicit prior permission from the Director. At the discretion of the Director, T&A for a larger number of observers may be provided. ["Astronomer" generally means a staff member or postdoc at a recognised astronomical institution with a minimum level of observing experience, who can competently carry out an observing run after an initial night with a support astronomer. "Student" generally means a graduate student or senior undergraduate from a recognised astronomical institution.]
- Observing runs: An observing run is usually a single block of time allocated to a particular program. Where a program is allocated separate, non-contiguous blocks of time, these are considered separate observing runs. Where a single observing run extends for more than one week, it may (for the purposes of T&A support) effectively be treated as N separate runs, where N = 1+int((length of run in nights-1)/7); how these N runs split the observing period is left to the observers.
- Travel support: For each observing run (see ), travel support will be provided for each eligible observer (see ) as a reimbursement of actual travel expenses, for which receipts will need to be provided, up to the maximum amounts given below. Travel payments are approximately based on the cheapest mode of transport between the observer's institution and the AAT: for institutions in NSW and the ACT, travel by car is assumed; for institutions in VIC, TAS, SA, WA or NT, travel by plane is assumed. Observers from institutions in QLD can either claim for plane+car travel or car-only, based on whichever is the most practical method of travel. Where there are two observers attending a run from the same institution and car travel is assumed, only one travel payment will be made. The travel payments for observers from various regions will be as given in the table below. Payments for travel from other regions will be established as necessary. Payments will be revised as appropriate at future times.
Region Mode of travel Payment Sydney Car $200 Canberra Car $240 Brisbane Plane + Car $1100 SE Qld (to AAT only) Car $280 Melbourne Plane + Car $1100 Hobart Plane + Car $1400 Adelaide Plane + Car $1100 Perth Plane + Car $1500
- Accommodation support: For each run (or effective run, see ), accommodation support will be provided in the form of payment directly by the AAO to the hotel in Sydney or Coonabarabran used by the observers. Costs will be covered for up to the number of nights equal to the number of nights in the run plus one (to allow observers to arrive by the night before the night their run begins). Payment will only be made up to this maximum for nights actually used by the observers. Any additional charges beyond the basic accommodation cost for the eligible number of nights must be paid by the Observer. Meal costs are the obligation of the observers.
- Payment process: Observers are responsible for paying all their expenses at the time they are incurred; Expense reimbursement can only be claimed after the run is complete. To claim expense reimbursement, all organisations registered for GST must submit an invoice and all observers not registered for GST must submit a completed Expense Reimbursement Form (available in Word or PDF format). Submissions must be made within 6 months of the completion of their observing run. Claims may be made by observers separately or together, at their discretion (noting rule  regarding car travel for two observers from the same institution).
- Auditing and penalties: In claiming T&A, observers give the AAO the right to audit their claims. Significant irregularities in T&A claims may, at the discretion of the Director, result in ineligibility for future T&A support.
Andrew Hopkins, Head of AAT Science