The ANITA Charter

The Australian National Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (ANITA) is an Australia-wide Institute consisting of members drawn from different Universities and other astronomical institutions. ANITA is a Chapter of the Astronomical Society of Australia (ASA). ANITA is a cooperative organisation that is not the province of any one institution but which has a broadly based and fundamental role in the promotion of theoretical astrophysics.

Functions and Goals

The functions and goals of ANITA are the following:

1. Support the professional development of the theoretical astrophysics community within Australia

Theoretical astrophysics groups throughout Australia benefit from interaction and the exchange of ideas and techniques. ANITA promotes communication, provides a positive environment for collaboration and provides a focus for the members of its community. Regular workshops in numerous locations (see 3, below) provide one way of bringing theoreticians together and discussing topics of joint interest.

ANITA is proactive in supporting the careers of theoretical astrophysicists. An important concern of ANITA is the establishment of career paths for students of theoretical astrophysics.

2. Promote the discipline of theoretical astrophysics

Theoretical astrophysics has a number of broad and complementary roles. These include collaboration with observers in the interpretation and modelling of data, the establishment of physical and mathematical frameworks on which future observational strategies are based and participation in proposals for new observational and theoretical facilities. These activities are both national and international. It is a function of ANITA to promote and enhance such activities and ensure that the substantial intellectual contributions of Australian theoreticians are recognized and supported. This means that ANITA plays a significant role in reviews of Australian Astronomy, making the case that new proposals factor in support for theoreticians, and seeking representation on appropriate committees.

3. Linkage with the national and international astronomical community

ANITA promotes interactions between theoreticians and observers via its web page, the organization of several short, scientifically focused workshops each year and the utilisation of sophisticated video-conferencing technology as an aid to effective communication. These activities are intended to promote an enhanced scientific return from Australia’s investment in observational infrastructure and scientific personnel. Lists of international visitors are published on the web and joint applications are made for visiting scientists from overseas.

4. Education

Theoretical astrophysicists require a sound grounding in physics and mathematics as well as specialised undergraduate and graduate courses. Examples of how ANITA may contribute in this area include the organisation of the delivery of lecture courses via newly emerging communication technologies and organisation of a national summer school for students aspiring to either theoretical or observational research.

Organisation and Governance

1. Membership

ANITA is a Chapter of the ASA and hence to be a member of ANITA requires being a member of the ASA. ANITA membership is open to all ASA members whoare committed to the development of theoretical astrophysics in Australia and specifically to the functions and goals described above. Apart from this general criterion, there are two classes of membership:

  • Full Membership of ANITA is open to all ASA members under the category of Honorary Fellow, Fellow (FASA) or Full Member (MASA); and
  • Student Membership, which is open to student members of the ASA at honours level and above.

Only full members are entitled to vote in all ballots and elections of ANITA. Student members are entitled to vote for a student representative on the steering committee (see item 2e below).

2. Chair and steering committee

The ANITA steering committee consists of the following:

  • a Chair;
  • an immediate past Chair (when relevant);
  • an ASA Council member chosen by the ASA as an ex-officio ANITA steering committee member (unless an ANITA steering committee member is already a member of the ASA council);
  • a broadly representative steering committee of six people, elected by the full members of ANITA;
  • a student representative elected by the student members of ANITA;
  • a secretary appointed from the steering committee (responsible for minutes of meetings, circulation of the minutes to the membership, and organisation of the elections);
  • a treasurer appointed from the steering committee (responsible for managing the income and expenditure of ANITA and for providing an annual report of such activity to the membership).

The Chair and steering committee are elected by the ANITA membership under the following arrangements:

  • The Chair holds office for two years.
  • Steering committee members hold office for two years.
  • Three members of the steering committee are elected annually.
  • The student representative is elected annually.
  • There is no limit on the number of consecutive appointments of either Chair, steering committee members or student representative.
  • The immediate past Chair provides continuity of information relating to past decisions and actions on behalf of ANITA.
  • By 1 March of each year, the Chair calls for nominations for the position of Chair (every second year), the three to-be-vacated positions on the steering committee (every year), and student representative (every year).
  • A ballot of the members is conducted by March 15 and the result is declared in time for the new Chair and steering committee to take up their appointments by April 1.
  • Election of all office holders in ANITA is determined by the direct count of the number of votes obtained by each candidate for a given position.

3. Meetings of the steering committee

The steering committee meets a minimum of three times per year. Its functions include decisions related to the above goals and other matters related to theoretical astrophysics that arise from time to time.

4. Authority

Being a cooperative organisation, ANITA has no authority over its members, who are subject to the authority and regulations of their own institutions. Nevertheless, it is expected that members who accept various duties (e.g. work as a committee member, workshop organisation) will perform those duties diligently. It is also expected that members will support the goals of ANITA in a professional manner.

Charter Additions or Amendments

Additions or amendments to this charter require agreement by a two-thirds majority of the membership who vote on any proposed change. A minimum of one-third of the total ANITA membership must participate in the voting for the vote to be valid.