11 June 2020

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

A statement from the Statistical Society of Australia

It has been a terrible few weeks watching the events precipitated by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in the USA. Australia urgently needs to confront its own issues with police brutality and institutional violence, with 437 Indigenous deaths in custody since 1991. This statement is to express our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter campaign. The Statistical Society of Australia is committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion.

I was heartened to read the strong statements from the presidents of the American Statistical Association and Royal Statistical Society. I echo their sentiments that a key thing we can do is educate ourselves about the problems in our own borders. Another positive step statisticians can take is to use our knowledge of statistics to work with our colleagues in health and social sciences who research the areas of health, justice and equity. Data can make a difference and we have the power to help bring about positive change.

You might have seen the campaign to rename the Fisher lecture after the African American David Blackwell. I support this change and I have signed the petition. David Blackwell was a remarkable talent and it is important that our field can tear down the statues of our past, as happened literally in Bristol this week.

As a Society we recently made changes to our code of conduct, to include personal as well as professional conduct. We want to make it clear that our Society will not tolerate racism. Codes of conduct are now mandatory at our conferences and large events: these Codes explicitly state that racist behaviour will not be accepted at our events.  Promotion of equity and diversity are now key criteria in Society awards.

There is undoubtedly more that our Society can do to become the safe and welcoming place for everyone that we want it to be. We want our Society and our country to be free from racism and disrespect.  We recognise that we are working and living on Aboriginal land, and that there is much work to be done towards reconciliation.

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss these issues or have any ideas about how the Society might support the Black Lives Matter campaign.

Adrian Barnett
President of the Statistical Society of Australia

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Vic Branch May Meeting:
Raising Heretics: Why Data Science Education is crucial for our future

On May 26th, we, the Victorian Branch, had a talk by Linda McIver. She is the founder and Executive Director of the Australian Data Science Education Institute (ADSEI) and has previously appeared on Q+A on ABC to talk about her mission to empower students with evidence-based scepticism. [Read More]

The event began with our President, Damjan Vukcevic, giving a wonderful introduction to Linda, citing her appearance on ABC. The event was attended by about 40 people. Linda gave a series of interesting examples of where scepticism is required, highlighting the need to raise "heretics". She gave examples on survivor bias in data, such as the case where the bullet hole locations in World War II planes were examined to improve defence on these planes, however, the data collected were only on planes that survived the flight, thus were misleading to where the defence should be increased on the planes. You can watch the talk here and find the slides here

The Victorian Branch continues holding monthly events online via zoom. It was a pleasure to see a number of names from other branches attending our event!

Emi Tanaka
Vic Branch Secretary

Trivia in the time of COVID-19

Can you identify the statistician in this picture? Do you know what Student’s real name was? Or maybe you know who played patient zero in the 2011 film Contagion? *

On Tuesday May 19, the Victorian Branch held a socially-distanced trivia night via Zoom to test the general knowledge of a keen bunch of statisticians, with teams divided up using Zoom’s breakout rooms. With apocalypse, statistics, and general knowledge-themed rounds, there was not much to separate the teams. Organised by the Victorian Branch’s Lizzie Korevaar, the night was a lot of fun, and a great way to keep in touch with people without having to leave the house.

The final round, and my personal favourite, was a majority-rules round. Teams had to guess what the most popular answer would be to questions like “What game is most likely to cause an argument?” (Monopoly) and “Pineapple on pizza: yes or no?” (to which the majority, incorrectly in my view, ruled no!). Thanks to Lizzie and the rest of the Vic Branch for a brilliant night, and to my team mates Rhys Bowden and Rheanna Mainzer for their enviable general knowledge!

Jessica Kasza

*Answers: Victorian Branch President Damjan Vukcevic; William Sealy Gosset; Gwyneth Paltrow.

SSA+NZSA virtual mini-conference

Are you an SSA or NZSA member who was looking forward to presenting your work at ANZSC2020 in July? Disappointed that you won’t get to share your work until the new conference date in 2021?

To alleviate that disappointment, SSA and NZSA will host a virtual conference session on July 9, from 1pm to 2:30pm AEST (starting 11am AWST; 12:30pm ACST; 3pm NZST). SSA or NZSA members who were going to give a talk or present a poster at ANZSC2020 are welcome to sign up for our virtual conference session, which will take place via Zoom. Each speaker will have 10 minutes to talk, followed by 5 minutes for questions and discussion.

If you want to present your work, email the title and abstract of your accepted talk or poster to by June 30, with “SSA+NZSA virtual mini-conference” in the subject line. The zoom link and further instructions for speakers will be sent closer to the date.

Congratulations to SSA Honorary Member, Professor Kaye Basford, who received a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to tertiary education, to the biomedical sciences, and to scientific academies. Kaye was SSA President from 2006 – 2008. 

Join the big party organised by the NSW Branch and the Canberra Branch as well as the Sydney Chapter of RLadies and attend the talk

Beyond Beamer: Modern and Dynamic Presentations with R Markdown with presenter Emi Tanaka

Tuesday 30 June 2020, 6pm AEST

In this tutorial talk, Emi will talk about the capabilities and benefits of using R Markdown to make presentation slides based on the `xaringan` R-package.

Find out more here or contact the Canberra Branch.

From Science & Technology Australia
Expert scientific evidence key to avert future megafires

Expert scientific evidence should guide every element of Australia’s bushfire prevention, mitigation and recovery efforts, the nation’s peak body for science and technology has urged.

In a submission to the Senate inquiry on the devastating 2019-2020 bushfire season, Science & Technology Australia says the strong embrace by Governments of science evidence to stop COVID-19 should be a model for bushfire prevention.

Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert said the devastating fire season of the past summer had turned the predicted effects of climate change into a stark reality.

Read the full media release

Find new job opportunities

with SSA, using robust search filters. Setup a Job Alert to have relevant, newly posted jobs sent directly to your inbox, and be the first to see and apply to those open opportunities. An uploaded resume in your job seeker account makes applying quick and easy.

Here’s how to set up a Job Alert:

  • Search for jobs and apply filters to just view jobs relevant to you.
  • When the jobs populate, enter your email address on the pop-up window.
  • Once completed, you will receive an email asking you to activate the job alert.
  • Click the link to receive emails containing only jobs that match your criteria.
Set up your Job Alert today

The South Australian Branch of the Statistical Society would like to invite you the June Branch meeting on 17 June 2020 (6:00-7:00PM), with presenter

Dr Oscar Perez-Concha, UNSW, speaking about

Machine Learning: From damned lies to statistics, where does machine learning lie within the field of data science?

This presentation tries to take participants along the same journey to an understanding of where machine learning techniques and other techniques lie within data science frameworks.

Click here to find out more and to register

Webinar “Getting to know our “cell mates”: A practical approach to microbiome analysis through a biostatistician’s lens”, organised by the SSA Biostatistics Section.

19 June 2020 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM (AEST) via Zoom

This webinar will be a walk-through of stages of extracting insights from microbiome data. This is a free event, but you will need to register. 

Click here to find out more and to save your place.

Limited places are still available for our course

P-values and the normal assumption in scientific research

An online course with presenter Professor Adrian Barnett, 26 June 2020, 2pm AEST.

To learn more and to register, click here

Virtual Poster Pitch -  What are you working on?

SSA’s Young Statisticians Network (YSN) is running a virtual Poster Pitch event via Zoom on Friday July 10 at 3pm. If you are one of our student or early career members, we want you to present your work to the world! 

Participants will be required to submit their pitches in video format by July 1 at 8pm AEST. Pre-recorded videos will be aired on event day. The audience and a panel of experts will judge the pitches and prizes will be awarded to the best pitches of the day.

Find out how you can participate

2020 Dennis Trewin Award

Are you/do you know a young statistician or data scientist from the ACT or regional NSW interested in presenting their recent research and winning some prize money?

Then luckily for you, SSA Canberra has extended nominations for the 2020 Dennis Trewin prize until 19th June

For full details, please read here!

From SMRI (Sydney Mathematical Research Institute) Executive Director Anthony Henderson:

Applications are now open for the new Domestic Visitor Program of the University of Sydney Mathematical Research Institute (SMRI). Complementing our flagship International Visitor Program, this scheme is for researchers in the mathematical sciences from other Australian universities who wish to do research at SMRI, either individually or as part of a group of collaborators. Funding is available for successful applicants who are not based in Sydney.

This application round is for visits of at least 2 weeks within the period 24 August - 18 December 2020. Applications close on Sunday 5 July 2020 and should be sent by email to with the information requested in the terms and conditions on the SMRI website.

Applications from female and gender-diverse researchers, and from researchers belonging to other groups which are underrepresented in the mathematical sciences, are particularly encouraged. Please direct questions about the conditions to the Institute's Executive Director Anthony Henderson at

Statistical Society of Australia |  PO Box 213 Belconnen ACT 2616 Australia 

02 6251 3647 |