18 June 2020

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

Our branches, sections, networks and various committees have been busy organising more events for you. I hope that when you scroll down this newsletter you will find a webinar or course that tweaks your interest. More events are listed here. If you can't see anything you like, please contact me, let me know what you are missing and how SSA could fill that gap.

Recent newsletters contained a call for committee members for the Young Statisticians Conference 2021, which will be held together with ANZSC2021 in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast from 5- 9 July 2021. We had a great response and received applications from some very talented members!  I would like to welcome our new YSC2021 Committee and invite our readers to meet them here.

There are always ways to get involved with SSA and this news bulletin contains more opportunities.  Have you got an idea how SSA could improve its services for members? Then you should consider joining SSA’s new Planning Sub-Committee. Find out more below. We are also looking for an artistically minded member keen to judge a photo competition that SSA is sponsoring. If that is you, please email me.

Kind regards

Marie-Louise Rankin
SSA Executive Officer

Read in your browser

WA Branch June Meeting

The monthly seminar of the SSA in WA was presented by Brenton Clarke, the current President of the Branch. The seminar was held via ZOOM, the web-based video conferencing tool, because of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Read the full report

From the International Statistical Institute: President’s Message – June 2020: Acting for a Better World

In his June message, ISI President A. John Bailer talks about the role of statistics in coping with the challenges of the world today: “Problems associated with understanding, treating disease and developing vaccines seem very simple when compared to problems associated with racism and prejudice. How can statistics contribute to responses to racism and prejudice in our world?”


"What can we learn from George Floyd's death, and what role can data and data science play in this?"

Join the panel session co-organised by the by QUT Centre for Data Science and QUT Carumba Institute as part of the series “Data Science in the News”, held on Friday, 19 June 2020, 12:00PM via Zoom.

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis USA at the hands of police has been headline news worldwide, sparking discussions, demonstrations, reflections and statements.

His death highlights many important issues and questions. It prompts us to reflect on the role that data and data analysis play in these issues and, in turn, how these issues might inform our work as data scientists.

To find out more and to register click here

Call for volunteers: Planning sub-committee

The Society is looking for ways to expand what we offer to members focusing on new ways to grow and retain our membership. We are forming a small sub-committee (chaired by the current president) to consider potential activities and initiatives. Participation will involve 2 to 3 Zoom meetings and some additional time considering the options and thinking about ideas (all in the next few months). This is an ideal way for you to contribute a small amount of your time to help us grow. We welcome all members including student members, and would appreciate a diverse range of background and thoughts. Please e-mail Adrian ( to express your interest.

Register for National Science Week
Last year, 1.5 million Australians took part in Science Week. This year it’s a bit different, with everything from wildlife spotting competitions to virtual reality in space.

Plan your event and register it now.

A message from the Australian Bureau of Statistics:

We are changing the ABS website

On 23 March we released our new website in beta. Later in 2020, this will become the official website for the ABS. We invite you to find out about the changes, become familiar with the improved page layout, interactive graphs, new functionality and customisable features.

Some of the things we have improved:

  • Key findings made clearer
  • Clear and easy pathways to statistics
  • Language that is easier to understand
  • Interactive graphs and tables
  • Improved search
  • Improved accessibility
  • New ABS data services

Want to keep informed?

You can join the ABS email notification service or update your subscription preferences to receive updates about our new website.

Questions, comments or concerns?

We’re here to support you. We are driven to make this process as seamless as possible during this time. If you have any questions, concerns or you would like to discuss how the changes to our new website may impact you, please contact our Dissemination Engagement team via

The Statistical Society of Australia is pleased to announce the following Zoom webinar, exclusively for members of SSA and NZSA:

Writing successful fellowships  Friday, 24 July 2020, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM (AEST)

Success rates for fellowship applications are plummeting, but success is not impossible! This interactive panel-style webinar will feature brief presentations from three past/current SSA presidents: Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen (ARC Laureate), Professor Scott Sisson (ARC Future Fellow) and Professor Adrian Barnett (NHMRC Fellow), followed by an extended discussion and question time. Gain knowledge and inspiration to help optimise your chances!

Click here to find out more and to register

Join in for the enlightening seminar series hosted by the new Melbourne Centre for Data Science.

Running monthly through 2020, the 2nd virtual seminar “Interpretability vs. Explainability in Machine Learning” will be held on Friday 26 June at 10am AEST via Zoom.

The centre is pleased to host Cynthia Rudin, professor of computer science, electrical and computer engineering, and statistical science at Duke University. She is a three time winner of the INFORMS Innovative Applications in Analytics Award, one of the "Top 40 Under 40" by Poets and Quants in 2015, and one of the 12 most impressive professors at MIT in 2015 according to She has served on numerous noteable committees and is a fellow of both the American Statistical Association and Institute of Mathematical Statistics. 

For more information and to register, click here

Save the date for the next Canberra Branch meeting, noting it will be a big party joint with SSA NSW and the Canberra and Sydney Chapters of RLadies:

Speaker: Emi Tanaka (Monash University)

Topic: Beyond Beamer: Modern and Dynamic Presentations with R Markdown

30 June 2020, 6pm

Details are provided here

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.

Call for Proposals: The Artificial Intelligence for Decision Making Initiative

The Artificial Intelligence for Decision Making Initiative (the Initiative) is a collaborative project between the Office of National Intelligence (ONI) and the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group, to develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) expertise and capability in areas of significant importance to the Australian defence and national security community.

Individuals are invited to apply their skill and expertise to solve one of 23 AI and ML research and development-related challenges.

Successful applicants will be provided with three-month funding of up to $20,000 per project and could also have the opportunity to be part of a national network focused on developing AI and ML technology. There is also the opportunity for project prototypes to be considered for progression through the Defence Artificial Intelligence Centre (DAIC), or defence and university sectors.

The Initiative is being delivered on a national basis through the Defence Science CentreDefence Science InstituteDefence Innovation Network and Defence Innovation Partnership.

Applications will be accepted from 8 June 2020, closing 26 June 2020 or when funds are exhausted, whichever date comes sooner. It is recommended to apply early.

Find out more

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

Only four places left for this workshop!

P-values and the normal assumption in scientific research

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

P-values are widely used in scientific papers, but are frequently misused and misunderstood. A p-value is not the probability that the null or alternative hypothesis is true, nor are they a useful decision rule for was is “significant” or not. We will cover what p-values mean and what they can be used for, and look at confidence intervals as an  alternative to p-values. We will consider practical significance, also known as clinical significance or public health significance.

Many scientists wrongly believe that their data need to be normally distributed in order to use parametric tests like the t-test or linear regression. This leads scientists to use non-parametric tests (such as the Mann-Whitney test), which are useful but are limited in their inference and flexibility. We will learn why “lumpy” and not normally distributed data should be celebrated, and how the central limit theorem allows us to use parametric tests for most experiments with a sample size over 100.

P-values and the normal assumption are both widely misunderstood in scientific research. This short-course will improve your understanding of their use, which will help you produce better statistical analyses.

To learn more and to register, click here

Virtual Poster Pitch -  What are you working on?

The SSA wants to know what our student and early career members are working on. To find out, 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! Share your work and practice your communication skills, while describing your contribution to scientific knowledge.

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 - Nomination deadline tomorrow!

A final call for nominations to apply for the Dennis Trewin prize 2020: 

The Dennis Trewin prize, named after the former Australian Statistician Dennis Trewin, seeks to award young statisticians from the ACT and regional areas of NSW outside Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong for outstanding research in the fields of statistics and data science. It is open to postgraduate students in their final year of study, or who have graduated in the last 12 months.

If you are interested in applying, please submit an abstract of your research work to by 19th June. You will also need to demonstrate that you are undertaking/undertook a research degree from a university with a campus in the ACT or in a regional area of NSW outside Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong.

Applicants who are shortlisted will be invited to record a 15-20 minute talk on their research. The winner of the Dennis Trewin prize will receive a $1,000 cash prize + invitation to present their research as part of SSA Canberra's branch meeting in October. Dinner will also be provided, along with travel + one night's accommodation costs if the winner cannot travel from their current address and return on the day of the meeting.

Nominate someone now!

Tired of surveys but eager to leave feedback? Tell us what you are missing from your SSA membership. Or let us know what we do well. We will listen. 

Contact us

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

02 6251 3647 |