SSA August 2019 eNews

Welcome to the August edition of the SSA newsletter

The job of an Association Executive Officer is not without its perks. As we are all counting down the last days of winter, I was lucky enough to escape the chilly temperatures last week, having been invited to “Meet Darwin”, a familiarisation tour of Darwin and surrounds, compliments of the Northern Territory Business Bureau and Darwin Convention Centre.  Over four fabulous days I experienced the superb hospitality of the Northern Territory. It didn’t take me long to decide: Darwin would make a fantastic conference destination. Want to know why? Click here.

Marie-Louise Rankin, 
Executive Officer, SSA


News from the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Section

The SSA Biostatistics & Bioinformatics Section co-hosted a ‘Getting started in biostatistical consultancy’ workshop with the Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne on Thursday 4th July. This long-awaited event attracted a great amount of interest, reaching capacity shortly after the early-bird registration date; perhaps not surprising given the fantastic speakers the organisers managed to attract to this workshop. Read all about this event here.


Vic Branch July meeting:

Anthony Lee and Sequential Monte Carlo

SSA Vic Branch President Damjan Vukcevic (L) with speaker Anthony Lee (R)On the evening of 18 July, 50 eager statisticians gathered at Monash University to hear Dr Anthony Lee from the University of Bristol talk about sequential Monte Carlo methodology.  

The visit to Monash, sponsored by ACEMS (The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers), was one of a number of talks given by Anthony on his tour around Australia. Anthony first provided a refresher on classical Monte Carlo methods before introducing sequential Monte Carlo, motivated by hidden Markov models.  Such techniques have some very desirable properties, including that of time uniform convergence: when computing quantities on some finite state space, errors do not accumulate. If you want to learn more about sequential Monte Carlo methods, a pre-print of a book chapter that Anthony has written with collaborator Arnaud Doucet is available on Anthony’s website. And if they missed the talk, SSA members can see it here, on SSA's new video page (Members need to be logged in).

By Jessica Kasza


SA Branch July 2019 monthly meeting:

Quantitative Bias Analysis

On 24th July 2019 Dr Murthy Mittinty presented a talk on Quantitative Bias Analysis to the South Australian branch. Dr Mittinty is a senior lecturer in the School of Public Health at The University of Adelaide and interested in both methodological development and applications of statistical methods. The talk discussed systematic and random errors in both observational or experimental data and how to handle them in observational studies. Dr Mittinty talked about how to select a method to model biases and software that can be used for conducting quantitative bias analysis with examples. Read more here.


Canberra Branch

Statistics in the Capital...Round 1: Data Confidentiality versus Utility...Fight!

SSA Canberra is delighted to have Dr Daniel Elazar speak at the August Foreman lecture branch meeting. Daniel Elazar is currently the Director of the Data Integration, Access and Confidentiality Methodology Unit which develops and applies statistical methodologies in record linkage and confidentiality. He will be speaking about the methodological challenges in balancing data Confidentiality and utility in an increasingly contested data environment.

The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 27 August. Details are available on the Canberra branch meeting website

Francis Hui, Warren Muller, Daniel Fearnley, Phil Tennant
On behalf of SSA Canberra


News from the Bayes Section

Congratulations to Murray Aitkin for his recent award of an honorary fellowship from the Statistical Modelling Society. A report on Anthony Lee’s visit to the University of New South Wales. Reminders of deadlines for Bayes on the Beach 2019, BayesComp and ISBA 2020. Read more here.


News from the Statistical Education Section

What: PhD (Statistics) Scholarship

Where: Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

When: Submissions due 12 Sept, 2019 (for commencement by Jan 2020)

Who: Domestic or International applicant

Applications: to
Please include your CV, an overview of how you address the criteria, a completed EOI form and a sample of recent academic writing.

Principal Supervisor: A/Prof Peter Howley (Section Chair: Statistical Education)

Details of this opportunity available online


The National Schools Poster Competition is on in 2019.

i.       Engaging over 1000 students annually, the project-based learning activity involves teams of 2 to 5 school students creating an informative e-poster communicating an investigation on any topic from any field as determined by the students, utilising the collection, presentation and interpretation of data. There are 5 divisions, Stages 2-6.

ii.     Please promote to schools, teachers, school-aged students, friends, family with school-aged students, etc) using the 1-min overview video and NSPC website.

iii.    Submissions are due online by 10 November annually

iv.    The 2018 Year 10 and Year 12 winners have been submitted to the International Statistical Literacy Project 2018-19 competition. Winners of this international competition expected to be known mid-year.

v.     Liaising with Petra Kuhnert (CSIRO), the Australasian Biometrics Society is sponsoring a special feature Year 9/10 Division of the NSPC for entries with a Biometrics theme(Prizes of $300, $200 and $100 for 1st, 2nd, 3rd)  to align with the 2019 International Biometric Society (Australasian Region) Conference in Adelaide.

Peter Howley, Statistical Education Section – Chair


Question of the month:

Would you recommend joining SSA to others? Why? Have your say here.


Places filling up fast for the Young Statisticians Conference 2019

Not long now until YSC2019 and we are so excited to welcome you to Canberra! To date we have received close to 70 registrations, which means we are able to deliver a solid program, offering fascinating talks on many different topics. Sessions include “Population and economics”, “Applied biostatistics and biostatistics in practice”, “Computer science” and much more.  And don’t forget the Career Session at the end of the first day! Hear from first class statisticians how they turned their passion for statistics into successful careers they love. Read more about how our Young Statisticians signature event is taking shape here.


UniBank is a proud sponsor of YSC2019

At UniBank, we believe in the contribution that universities make to our community and to the world.

We believe in the power that higher learning has to change minds, to change how things are done. Because knowledge, discovery and new ways of thinking are important to us too.

That’s why we’re focused on supporting university communities across Australia through collaboration and partnership with key stakeholders within the sector. And why we’re determined to deliver exceptional lifetime banking experiences for staff, students and graduates of
Australian universities and their families.

To know more visit


Compete for an Invited Session at JSM

The program chair for the 2020 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) in Philadelphia, PA—to be held August 1-6, 2020— recently contacted the SSA with an invitation to participate in a competition for an invited session for these meetings. JSM encourages proposals for invited sessions on topics of your choice to be submitted. These submissions will compete for a maximum of nine invited sessions for organisations other than the JSM sponsors.

The theme for JSM 2020 is “Everyone Counts: Data for the Public Good,” but not all sessions have to adhere to this theme. Formats vary for invited sessions; however, all are 110 minutes in length and have a session chair. The sessions typically include 2–6 participants, including the chair, with two of the most popular and successful formats being 2–3 speakers with a discussant or a panel discussion of 3–5 panelists. Please reference the call for invited sessions published in Amstat News:

The submission deadline is 5 September 2019. For more information please click here.


News from the Official Statistics Section

John Pullinger, incoming president of IAOS

At the World Statistics Conference in Kuala Lumpur this month, John Pullinger - currently National Statistician in the UK -  will take over from Mario Palmo as president of the International Association of Official Statistics. 

His background in official statistics, and as a former president of the Royal Statistical Society is canvassed in an interview with Katherine Condon for the Statistical Journal of the IAOS. See the interview here 

Of note are his remarks on his various roles in the RSS and within the UN system, his championing of statistical literacy in government and in the UK Parliament, and on his long term interest in public policy. He joined as Director of Public Policy when Bill McLennan was brought in to rebuild the UK Office of National Statistics in the late 1990s, eventually taking the top position in the newly centralised government statistical service.  

Stephen Horn
Chair, Official Statistics Section


Have you seen our videos?

Missed a branch meeting? Not to worry! Many of our events are recorded and you can “attend” them in your own time, watch them on your PC or device, perhaps even with a cup of tea or something stronger!

Click here to see what is available and don’t forget to check back from time to time to find out what has been added. The latest videos available are Dr Susanna Cramb's presentation on "Cancer Maps" and a recording of "Time Series - A conference honouring Professor William Dunsmuir". A couple of videos from 2018 can be found here, but you need to be logged in to have access.


AGM 2019 Notice

The 2019 Annual General Meetings of the Statistical Society of Australia, Inc and the Australian Statistical Publishing Association Inc will be held on Tuesday, 27 August 2019 from 5:00pm, preceded by light refreshments and followed by the Foreman lecture and dinner at a venue in Canberra to be confirmed.

The constitution of the SSA requires that the AGMs take place within five months of the close of the financial year of the society and usually the AGMs are scheduled to coincide with the society’s conference. For 2019 this timing was inappropriate.

The meeting agendas and other documents relevant to the AGMs will be published here as they become available. If you wish to read these in hard-copy, would you please print them yourself, since only limited copies will be available at the meeting.

A quorum of 20 members is required to legitimise any decisions made at the AGMs.

It would be wonderful to see you there.


Do you post to the ANZSTAT discussion forum?

Could I please encourage those of you who intend to post on SSA's new ANZSTAT list to change your privacy settings in your membership profile to “public” if you have not yet done so? Otherwise your comments will be displayed as having been made by “Anonymous”. 
To change the profile settings, please log into your membership account. Click on “Privacy” and “Edit profile”. Then tick the box next to “Show profile to others”.
Below the option to show your profile to others you’ll see a long list of items. You can select here which pieces of information you’d like “anybody” or just “other “members”to see. Ideally it should only be your name. I recommend that you do not make other details available to the public.
Marie-Louise Rankin, Executive Officer, SSA

Ken Russell Obituary

We are sad to advise that A/Professor Ken Russell passed away in Wollongong on 16 July after a battle with cancer. Ken was an adjunct Professor of Mathematical Science in the School of Computing and Mathematics at Charles Sturt University. He joined CSU in 2011 after many years at the University of Wollongong, where he was Director of the Statistical Consulting Service for most of the time. He taught many mainstream and service Statistics subjects in that time, and held several teaching awards, including an ALTC Citation for outstanding contributions to student learning. His research specialty was Experimental Design.Ken was one of our longest serving members, having joined the SSA in 1974. He was a member of the Accreditation Committee from 2010 until 2015, and he chaired this committee from May 2014 until the end of 2015. He took over as Technical Editor of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Statistics during the 2004-5 year and served for 6 years until 2010-11.


Oceania Stata Conference 2019

The Oceania Stata Conference is the premier Stata conference in the Oceania region and will provide Stata users from across Oceania and the world the opportunity to exchange ideas, experiences, and information on new applications of the software. This is the opportunity to meet leading Stata users and learn how they create reproducible research with Stata. The 2019 Oceania Stata Conference will be held at the Park Royal Parramatta 20 August 2019 with optional workshops (panel data and social statistics) on 19 August 2019. The Oceania Stata Conference Scientific Committee is pleased to announce the conference program:

Monday 18 August:
Panel Data Using Stata by Professor Bob Breunig of the Crawford School of Business at ANU
Social Statistics Using Stata by Dr Con Menictas of Strategic Precision

Tuesday 20 August: Panel-data extended regression models by Charles Lindsey of StataCorp
Data visualisation using Stata from first principles by Dr Demetris Christodoulou of University of Sydney
Non-linear regression using Stata and Sigmaplot by Steve Quinn of Swinburne University

 And more.. see for the full program and details and to register.


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SSA events you can look forward to:

Oceania Stata Conference 2019
18-20 August 2019, Sydney

Mediation Analysis Using Potential Outcome Framework
30 September 2019, Adelaide

Communicating with R Markdown - with Alison Hill
30 September 2019, Canberra

Maximising the Use of Australian Bureau of Statistics Data Products and Analysis Tools
30 September 2019, Canberra

1-2 October 2019, Canberra

Propensity Score Methods for Estimating Causal Effects in Non-experimental Studies: The Why, What, and How- booked out
21 October 2019, Sydney 2019

Network meta-analysis and population adjustment for decision-making
4 November 2019, Sydney

Bayes on the Beach 2019
25-26 November 2019,  Surfers Paradise

6-10 July 2020, Gold Coast

See more events listed here.

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The environmental stats section is now on Twitter. Their twitter handle is @EnviroStatsSSA

Are you AStat accredited? Is your accreditation up to date? Find out all about SSA's accreditation program here.


See our events listing to see what's coming up!