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Travel Policy

Section 1 -  Executive Summary

(1) This Policy and the associated Travel Procedure empower University travellers to use careful judgement and due diligence to achieve an appropriate balance between operational effectiveness, safety, security, and cost when booking and undertaking travel for University business.  

(2) Compliance with this Policy and its associated Procedure will ensure the University of Newcastle (University) can fulfil its duty of care for University travellers

(3) Use of the word ‘must’ in this Policy and the associated Procedure requires strict compliance. Use of the word ‘should’ allows the exercise of discretion where operational needs or circumstances require an alternative approach. Any alternative approach must be in accordance with the principles in Section 5 of this Policy and will be subject to approval in accordance with Section 9 of the Travel Procedure

(4) At their discretion and as necessary the Executive Committee may enact restrictions on travel because of financial, national interest, or other risks

(5) Refer to the ‘Definitions’ section for the meaning of defined terms. 

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Section 2 - Purpose

(6) This Policy establishes the principles for decision making relating to travel for official University business and is designed to ensure that the University

  1. fulfils its duty of care to University travellers.  
  2. manages risks including, but not limited to, those in relation to national security. 
  3. makes the most efficient use of its administrative resources in the travel booking and expense management process; and 
  4. maintains accurate records for all travel approvals and travel related expenditure. 
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Section 3 - Scope

(7) This Policy applies to domestic travel and international travel arrangements by University travellers on approved University business, regardless of the source of funds, the duration, or purpose of travel.  

(8) This Policy does not apply to the following travel activity: 

  1. University staff travelling for purposes other than University business and utilising resources other than University administered resources;
  2. students who are fully funding their study-related travel from personal resources, including scholarships or stipends provided by the University but for which the student has full discretion over how the funds are applied; or 
  3. University guests or affiliates travelling on University business where funding for travel is provided from funds that are not managed or otherwise administered by the University and the University is not responsible for the health, safety or wellbeing of the traveller. 

(9) University Council (Council) members must refer to the Reimbursement of Council Members' Expenses Policy in the first instance, and if an item is not covered in that policy, then the provisions of this policy applies. 

(10) Students who are also employees of the University, travelling on University funded travel, are considered employees for the purposes of this Policy and its associated Procedure. 

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Section 4 - Audience

(11) This Policy and the associated Travel Procedure must be read and understood by all University travellers, approvers, and travel arrangers. 

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Section 5 - Principles

Safe
The University traveller and the approver must take reasonable steps to ensure the safety, security, health, and wellbeing of all University travellers and resources while travelling on University business with consideration to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. Risk assessment and mitigation must include, but is not limited to, due diligence in relation to: 
- potential for reputational damage, financial loss, and foreign interference, including identifying whether pre-travel registration is required under the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme;
- physical and mental health and wellbeing, and a workplace health and safety risk assessment;
- consideration of potential for loss or damage to University resources that may require specific insurance measures; and 
- tax liabilities arising from the inclusion of any private travel component during and appended to University travel.
Essential The University traveller is responsible for considering all practical and the most sustainable alternatives before committing to travel for University business. The University traveller must demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the approver, that the travel is essential to achieving the University objectives as set out in the University Strategic Plan.
Economical The University traveller and the approver must take reasonable steps to ensure that all expenses associated with University travel demonstrate value for money and be within the relevant budget. It is not intended that this Policy or the Travel Procedure mandate a lowest price approach but rather that the most practical lowest cost outcome is achieved after consideration of the Safe and Essential principles.

(12) For staff, the University will pay or reimburse travel expenses incurred while efficiently and economically fulfilling approved University business, including costs associated with: 

  1. maintaining the health and safety of the University traveller;
  2. providing reasonable transport, sustenance, and shelter for the traveller;
  3. complying with legislative and regulatory obligations; and 
  4. booking, paying for, and acquitting travel related activity. 

(13) For University travellers who are not employees, the extent of reimbursement for the above costs will depend on the agreement between the University and the University traveller at the time the trip is approved. Any agreement to reimburse expenses must be in writing and signed by an appropriate delegate. 

(14) All travel must be pre-approved by an approver in accordance with the Travel Procedure and its associated documents (see Associated Documents). University travellers must not, under any circumstances, authorise their own travel. 

(15) Staff must ensure that the receipt of third-party funding or benefits for University travel is in accordance with the Conflict of Interest Policy and Conflict of Interest Procedure, where relevant.

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Section 6 - Travel Procedure

(16) The Travel Procedure forms part of this Policy and should be read in conjunction with this document.  

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Section 7 - Compliance

(17) Staff, students and guests failing to comply with the requirements of the Travel Policy and its related documents may be subject to the following actions: 

  1. reimbursement to the University for costs deemed not to be economical, or essential to achieving the University's objectives;
  2. reimbursement to the University of any Fringe Benefits Tax or other costs including but not limited to penalties, interest, third party advice and tax charges;
  3. suspension or cancellation of corporate cards in accordance with the Purchasing Card Policy and Procedures;
  4. suspension or cancellation of proposed and/or future University travel
  5. disciplinary action in accordance with the relevant Enterprise Agreement or employment contract for employees, or the Student Conduct Rule for students; and/or 
  6. where failure to comply with this Policy and its associated Procedure results in non-compliance with domestic or foreign laws, significant penalties including imprisonment may be imposed by the relevant authorities on individual travellers. 
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Section 8 - Definitions

(18) In the context of this document and its related Travel Procedure: 

Defined Term Meaning
domestic travel travel within Australia. 
due diligence a process undertaken, in this case by the University traveller and the Delegated Officer, to enquire into the operational effectiveness, safety, security and cost of proposed travel. Due diligence may include, but is not limited to, a considered risk assessment of the intended travel and associated University business, and enquiries into the collaboration, partnership, institution, or activity proposed by a foreign principal. 
employee a person who is classified as staff that is also remunerated by the University through the payroll system and processes. 
foreign influence an attempt by an entity to try to influence deliberations on issues of importance to them. These activities, when conducted in an open and transparent manner, are a normal aspect of international relations and diplomacy and can contribute positively to public debate. 
foreign interference occurs when activities are carried out by, or on behalf of a foreign actor, which are coercive, covert, deceptive or corrupting and are contrary to Australia’s sovereignty, our values and national interests. 
Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme a Scheme established under the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act (2018) (Cwlth). 
guest a person or persons engaged by the University to execute approved University business, who is not an employee or a student of the University
international travel travel to locations outside of Australia. 
travel arranger an employee responsible for collecting and booking travel requirements on behalf of other staff, students, and guests.