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SSA Canberra Branch Meetings

The Annual General Meeting of the SSA Canberra Branch will be held in hybrid format, both in person at a room at ANU (to be advised) and by zoom, at 5.15pm Tuesday 28 March. The agenda is linked here, which includes the details for joining the meeting via Zoom. If you cannot attend you can appoint a proxy; the form is linked here. The quorum for AGMs is 15, so please make an effort to attend in-person or on zoom so we make sure we achieve that number.

An important part of the AGM is to elect a new Council for 2023-2024. If you are interested in joining Council the nomination form is linked here. Please contact Warren Müller if you want to discuss what that involves.

Other relevant documents; proxy form, Council nomination form, Annual Report, Financial and Membership reports, are on or will soon be loaded to the google drive SSA Canberra Branch AGM documents. 

After the AGM there will be a talk, starting at 6.00pm, on the SPARSE project based at ANU, given by Sumonkanti Das, Bernard Baffour and Alice Richardson.

Date: Tuesday 28 March 2023

Time: 5:15pm – 6:00pm AEDT (AGM) and 6.00pm – 7.00pm (talk)   

Speakers: Sumonkanti Das and Bernard Baffour, School of Demography ANU, and Alice Richardson, Statistical Support Network, ANU

Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, HW Arndt Building, Building 25A, Kingsley Place, ANU (opposite the CBE Building), or via Zoom.

Note: For in person attendees, the front doors of the Arndt Building lock at 6:15pm so attendees will need to be in before then and they will need to be swiped out afterwards by an ANU attendee.

Topic: Estimation of daily smoking prevalence for disaggregated statistical areas in Australia


Official statistics on health outcomes for small domains are highly prized by policymakers and researchers alike, for measuring and monitoring progress of communities towards healthy lifestyles. Countries like Australia use their National Health Survey to monitor adult health behaviours such as daily smoking. However, the national level health survey data can not be used to estimate accurate daily smoking prevalence at the disaggregated statistical area (SA) level due to lack of information. This NHMRC-funded study aims to estimate the prevalence of daily smoking at SA levels 3 and 4.

Direct estimates of daily smoking and their smoothed standard errors for the domains at SA3 level have been used as input for developing multilevel models, which are expressed in a hierarchical Bayesian framework and fitted by Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) simulation. The developed models provide consistent estimates at the most detailed level domains by borrowing cross-sectional and spatial strengths. The detailed level domain predictions are then aggregated to obtain estimates at higher aggregation levels. Lower-level prevalences and their standard errors are plotted in a bivariate choropleth map, which permits simultaneous exploration of the spatial distribution and its accuracy.

The performance of the model-based estimates are compared with the corresponding designbased direct estimates. Significant inequalities within and between the SA3s are investigated to look for patterns that suggest policy actions that can be applied at either aggregated or disaggregated domains. These findings can help health researchers and policymakers to deliver programs to the most vulnerable, enabling them to meet their health goals in a timely way.


Alice Richardson has been working as the Lead of the Statistical Support Network (formerly Director of the Statistical Consulting Unit) at Australian National University (ANU) since October 2019. Before this position, she worked as Biostatistician at the National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health at ANU and at the University of Canberra. Her PhD on the statistical properties of robust methods of estimation for multilevel linear models was also from ANU. Her research interests are in linear models and robust statistics; statistical properties of data mining methods; applications of statistical methods to large data sets especially in population health and the biomedical sciences; and innovation in statistics education. She is the Principal Investigator of the NHMRC Idea Grants on “Filling in the blanks: a spatial visualisation tool to align national health outcome data with regional health policy objectives”.

Bernard Baffour is an Associate Professor in the School of Demography at ANU. He is also the Secondary Investigator on the NHMRC Idea Grant “Filling in the blanks”. He completed his PhD in social statistics from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, where he investigated the statistical properties of triple system capture-recapture estimators in population censuses; and subsequently undertook a post-doctoral fellowship examining the relationship between weather and health, through quantifying the impact drops in temperature had on hospital admissions. Prior to joining at the ANU in 2017, he was a Research Fellow in Social Statistics at the Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Queensland from 2012. He has a diverse range of experience across a wide spectrum of disciplines from education, sociology, epidemiology, public health to operational research.

Sumonkanti Das has been working as Research Fellow in the School of Demography at ANU since 2020, dedicating most of his time to the NHMRC Ideas Grant “Filling in the blanks”. He completed his PhD from the University of Wollongong in the area of small area estimation (SAE) focusing on robust inference in poverty mapping with a particular interest in developing countries. After his PhD, he worked as a post-doctoral researcher in the Quantitative Economics department at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. He worked on multilevel time series modelling to estimate mobility trends for small domains of the Dutch population by accounting for survey redesigns. Before joining Maastricht University, he was affiliated as a faculty member of the Department of Statistics, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology in Bangladesh. He has an immense interest in implementation of SAE methodology in the field of population health, nutrition, demography, and poverty. He also has expertise in multilevel modelling of complex survey data.

Dinner: After the talk we will be holding a dinner at Rice Tapas, Level 2/24 Garema Pl, Canberra. (RICE THAI TAPAS RESTAURANT, Canberra - Menu, Prices & Restaurant Reviews - Tripadvisor)  If you are interested in attending the dinner, please let me know by 5pm Monday 27 March by entering your details at attendance sheetor contacting me (; 0407 916 868). Please regard this as a firm commitment, not just an intention. For withdrawals after the deadline, please remove your name from the sheet and phone or text me (0407 916 868).

NOTE: We are offering discounts to SSA Early Career and Student members who attend dinner! Specifically, dinners will be a fixed charge of $10 for student members and $20 for early career members. Others will pay their share of the bill, after SSA applies a small subsidy. Typically this is $30-$40. Please bring cash if possible."

Zoom link:

Topic: SSA Canberra AGM + Talk, 28 March 2023

Time: Mar 28, 2023 05:00 PM Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

(full link details are below)

References for February Talk:

Some members have asked about references for Lauren Kennedy’s talk on 28 February. Lauren has supplied a list, which I will send to you upon request ( ).

Full Zoom Link:

Luca Maestrini is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: SSA Canberra AGM + Talk, 28 March 2023

Time: Mar 28, 2023 05:00 PM Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

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