Functions and Goals

The primary goal of the ECR Chapter of the ASA is to support the needs and development of ECRs in the Australian astronomy community. We do this through the following approaches

1.     Inform the members about opportunities for training and support

Connect the ECR community with relevant national and international ECR activities and opportunities. The chapter will also act as a resource to which ECRs can turn for information and support, as individual needs arise.

2.     Provide training for the members in areas of professional development

We might do this by running workshops that are focused on the needs of ECRs. For example, on career development or securing a job.

3.     Connect the members with other ECRs also senior researcher mentors, providing a support network

The chapter will do this by establishing a mentoring network between ECRs and more senior researchers. We will also aim to foster a sense of community amongst ECRs and encourage the development of a strong ECR support network.

4.     Acting as a advocacy and representation body for the members of the chapter

We will do this by pushing for ECRs to be included on decision making panels (TACs, committees, reviews, selection committees) and will also advocate for ECRs in terms of funding, career paths, etc. In order to fully represent the views and aspirations of our members, we will continuously gather information by conducting surveys of our members, relating to job satisfaction and problems, reasons for decisions to continue or leave astronomical research, research fields, universities, pay, etc.

The ECR Chapter additionally has a responsibility to represent the interests of the ECR community within Australia. Examples could include working on local and national committees, and by providing input into relevant forward-looking white papers or the Decadal Plan.

Where appropriate, the ECR Chapter will work with the other ASA Chapters (theory, women in astronomy, education and public outreach) to support cross-chapter goals for the benefit of all ASA members.

Organisation and Governance

1. Membership

The ECR Chapter is a Chapter of the ASA and hence to be a member of the chapter requires being a member of the ASA. Membership of the chapter is open to all members of the ASA who are committed to the goals of the chapter.

Apart from this general criterion, there are three classes of membership:

•       Student Membership, which is open to student members of the ASA at honours level and above
•       Ordinary Membership of the Chapter is open to all ASA members under the category of Honorary Fellow, Fellow (FASA) or Full Member (MASA), under the condition that they would classify themselves as Early Career Researchers. This means in practice any post-PhD researcher who has not achieved a continuing/tenured position.
•       Senior Membership of the Chapter (or ‘Mentors’) is open to all ASA members under the category of Honorary Fellow, Fellow (FASA) or Full Member (MASA), under the condition that they are more established researchers who are willing and able to provide mentoring and advice to ordinary members.

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

2. Chair and steering committee

The ECR Chapter steering committee will consist of the following members:

a. Chair, who must be an ordinary member of the Chapter
b. Immediate past Chair (not elected). Can be either an ordinary member or a senior member.
c. A broadly representative steering committee of five ordinary members drawn from the Chapter membership, and elected by ordinary members
d. ASA Council member chosen by the ASA as an ex-officio steering committee member (unless a steering committee member is already a member of the ASA council) (not elected)
e. Student representative (elected for a 1 year term)
f. Senior representative (elected for a 1 year term)
g. A secretary appointed from the steering committee (responsible for minutes of meetings, circulation of the minutes to the membership, and organisation of the elections)
h. A treasurer appointed from the steering committee (responsible for managing the income and expenditure of the chapter and for providing an annual report of such activity to the membership).

The Chair and steering committee are elected by the membership under the following arrangements:
•       The Chair holds office for two years.
•       Steering committee members hold office for two years.
•       Two or Three members of the steering committee are elected annually (depending on the year).
•       The student representative is elected annually, by the student members.
•       The senior representative is elected annually, by the ordinary and senior members.
•       There is no limit on the number of consecutive appointments of either Chair, steering committee members, student representative or senior representative.
•       The immediate past Chair provides continuity of information relating to past decisions and actions on behalf of the chapter.
•       Once a 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), the student representative (every year) and senior representative (every year).
•       A ballot of the members is conducted two after nominations are opened and the result is declared in time for the new Chair and steering committee to take up their appointments before the ASA Annual Scientific Meeting.
•       Election of all office holders in the chapter is determined by the direct count of the number of votes obtained by each candidate for a given position.

Elections will be held once per year and be coordinated by those on the Steering Committee not up for elections.

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 that arise from time to time.

4. Authority

Being a cooperative organisation, the Chapter 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 the Chapter 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 Chapter membership must participate in the voting for the vote to be valid.