12 November 2020

Dear {Contact_First_Name},

The Association of Market and Social Research Organisations (AMSRO) yesterday released its final report on the Inquiry into the Performance of the Opinion Polls at the 2019 Australian Federal Election (AMSRO Polling Inquiry). The report includes recommendations for how to improve political polling in Australia. You’ll find more information about the results of the investigation in the newsletter below. The SSA is very privileged to have members willing to dedicate their (little) spare time to lending their expertise to the investigation. Thank you!

As it happens, just as the AMSRO report was published in Australia, journalists in the US raise the question “Did the polling experts get the US election right or wrong?”. While the pollsters said Joe Biden would probably win the election, his victory still came with some surprises. Read Matt Bevan’s article on the subject here.

Wishing you a good week,

Marie-Louise Rankin
SSA Executive Officer

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The pollsters did not perform well in the lead up to the 2019 May Federal election. All predicted a win by the Labour party (ALP) with margins from 2% to 4% of the two party preferred vote. In the event, the Liberal National Party (LNP) coalition won by 3.0%. Election and political polling are consequential and influential and play an important role in the democratic process. In recent times, at least one Prime Minister lost his job as a result of poor polling. Furthermore, policy decisions are influenced by opinion polls.

Both the Statistical Society and the Australian Market and Social Research Organisations (AMSRO) proposed reviews of the performance to determine why all the published polls incorrectly called the outcome at 2019’s Federal election and how methods can be improved in the future.

It was agreed that AMSRO would take the main responsibility for the review but that the Statistical Society would be closely involved. The inquiry members included:

Advisory Board:

  • Dennis Trewin AO
  • John Henstridge (Stats Society rep on the board)
  • Ian McAllister
  • Kerry O’Brien
  • Travyn Rhall

Inquiry Panel:

  • Darren Pennay
  • Professor Murray Goot
  • Dr Phil Hughes
  • Dr Dina Neiger
  • Dr Jill Sheppard
  • Mr John Stirton

International Advisers:

  • Dr Paul Lavrakas
  • Patrick Moynihan
  • Professor Kristen Olson
  • Professor Patrick Sturgis

Yesterday, the final report report on the findings was released and Dennis Trewin and John Henstridge, both former presidents of the Statistical Society of Australia, provided an excellent summary.

Further reading is available here:

The full report 

The Guardian

Linked in

Twitter (from SRC account)


The SSA would like to thank everyone involved.

SSA Canberra Branch – 2020 Dennis Trewin prize 

Congratulations to Basim Alsaedi from University of Tabuk, Saudi Arabia (formerly from the University of New England where he completed his PhD) who has won the 2020 Dennis Trewin prize! Basim has received $1000 and a complimentary one-year SSA student membership for his efforts.

For full details, please read here!

John Darroch celebrating with Gary Glonek

Happy 90th Birthday,

Professor Darroch!

The SSA extends warm birthday wishes to the Society’s 2005 Pitman Medallist, and President from 1983-1985, Professor John Darroch. Professor Darroch turned 90 on October 22; the picture above shows him celebrating with A/Prof Gary Glonek. Throughout his career, Professor Darroch made important contributions to statistical methodology, influencing the development of categorical data analysis, contingency tables, and log-linear models: work that continues to be cited more than 20 years after his retirement. To get a more complete picture of the extent of Professor Darroch’s contributions, both to statistics and to the Australian statistical community, I would encourage you to read his Pitman Medal citation, available here.

The statistical community raises a glass!

If you have news from the Australian statistical community to share in Stats Matters and Events, please get in touch with us!

Fellowship funding support winners

We are delighted to announce our support for eight of our early career members in their bid to win competitive fellowship funding from the ARC or NHMRC. Applicants who win funding will receive $3000 from the society towards their research. Importantly all applicants can mention the society’s backing in their application.

The standard of applications was extremely high and we hope to award all eight. There was a wide range of topics including extreme weather events, bootstrap statistics, Monte Carlo estimation, and analysing data from space.

The eight winners are:

  • Boris Beranger
  • Susanna Cramb
  • Nicole De La Mata
  • Esmaeil Ebrahimie
  • Matt Moores
  • Margarita Moreno-Betancur
  • Houying Zhu
  • Nan Zou

This is a pilot scheme, but we will repeat it next year if this year is deemed a success. We have already had lots of positive feedback and thank our members for supporting this scheme and for those who helped judge the winners.

Adrian Barnett

Australia's next Chief Scientist announced

Earlier this week it was announced that Dr Cathy Foley AO PSM FAA FTSE will take the reins as Australia’s next Chief Scientist. Dr Foley served as STA President from 2009-2011 and was the inaugural chair of the STA policy committee in its re-formation in 2017, deepening the sector’s policy engagement.

Read STA's full media release here

Hack for Digital Healthcare #H4DH

Telstra Health’s first virtual hackathon event will take place over the last two weekends of November, with registrations closing on 13 November (tomorrow!). It will bring together people from across the health and aged care sectors with real problems to solve and connect them with teams of passionate innovators and technology and design professionals to create digital solutions.

The event kicks off Friday night Nov 20 and concludes Sun lunchtime Nov 29th. It's fully online.

Find out more

Previously advertised - don't forget these great events

The Statistical Society of Australia and the University of Wollongong are pleased to announce that the UoW 2020 Statistical Science Lecture will be given on

Wednesday, 18 November 2020 at 3pm AEDT by

Professor Sally Cripps, University of Sydney:

“Zen and the Art of Bayesian Geology/Hydrology/Ecology”

This is a live event that will also be presented as a webinar for SSA. 

Sally Cripps is a Professor of Mathematics and Statistics and Director of the ARC Centre in Data Analytics for Resources and Environments (DARE Centre), at the University of Sydney. Sally’s research focus is the development of new and novel probabilistic models which are motivated by the need to solve an applied problem with the potential for impact. She has particular expertise in the use of mixture models for complex phenomena, modelling longitudinal data, nonparametric regression, the spectral analysis of time series, and the construction of transition kernels in MCMC schemes that efficiently explore posterior distributions of interest. Sally is also Chair of the International Society for Bayesian Analysis’ section, Bayesian Education and Research in Practice.

For more information, click here

Please register here to receive the webinar link.

Statistical Consulting Network 2020 Meeting 

This virtual meeting  will take place 7-9 December. Doug Zahn (Florida State) and Nancy Briggs (UNSW Sydney) are confirmed keynote speakers and there are three parallel (two at a time) contributed sessions on:

  • The human side of consulting
  • Experiences in consulting and mentoring
  • Short courses and teaching
  • Case studies and big data
  • Models for consulting units
  • Project management 

As you can see, there is something for everyone interested in any aspect of consulting as a statistician.  

The format allows for lunch-time (timezone and feeding habit-dependent, we know) discussion sessions on topics such as  

  • How can we better support consultants working on their own?
  • If we had a webpage of introductory statistics resources to direct clients to, what should go on it?
  • What advice would you offer to someone starting their own consultancy?

Other topics can be set up too. 

Take a look at the draft program:

Registrations are still open.

Registrations are open until 25 November 2020

Should statisticians all work from home even after lockdown? Join us for a virtual debate

17 Nov 2020, 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM

Find out more and register here

CPD mentoring sub-committee – MEMBERS WANTED!

Statisticians frequently find themselves in fairly unique work positions, often the only statistician or one of few statisticians working within multidisciplinary teams. This can lead to less experienced statisticians feeling isolated and unaware of how to grow and develop within the profession. One way to support emerging professional statisticians in developing the personal and professional skillset needed to be successful in the workplace is via mentoring.

The Continuous Professional Development committee is seeking new members to help support the development of a SSA mentoring program based on the program piloted by the Biostatistics & Bioinformatics Section in 2020. This program will be launched in 2021 and CPD mentoring sub-committee members are required to help support the expansion of the program, reaching out to other SSA Sections and Branches to build a mentor list and work closely with the Early Career & Student Statisticians Network to link mentors with mentees. We encourage people from all backgrounds, employment sectors and experience levels to reach out and are committed to having a team that is made up of diverse skills, experiences and abilities. We actively encourage those of you who may not have been actively involved in the SSA in the past to reach out to help expand and diversify our SSA community. If you are interested in becoming involved, please send an email including a couple of paragraphs about yourself and why you want to be involved in the program to Karen Lamb at by November 13th. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you want any further information.

The Statistical Society of Australia warmly invites you to a workshop on

Data Wrangling with R, taught by Dr. Emi Tanaka

1-2 December 2020, 1:30pm-5:00pm(AEDT).

Data wrangling is one of the first key steps necessary before downstream analysis such as visualization or modelling. This workshop will teach you how to wrangle data in the statistical language R using the tidyverse suite of packages, i.e. dplyr, tidyr, stringr, lubridate and forcats. This will include learning about the concept of tidy data and learning the new verbs in dplyr v1.0.0 released early this year. The workshop will be hands-on with plenty of practical examples and time for participants to work through exercises to put what they learnt into practice.

Find out more and register here

Please join us for the webinar

The Advent of "Grammar": Bridging Statistics and Data Science for the Design of Experiments 

presented by Dr Emi Tanaka

on 27 November 2020, 1pm AEDT via Zoom. 

Statistics is a valuable tool for almost all scientific fields and industry to make sense of their data, yet as a field we lag behind to remain relevant, getting superseded by the so-called data science. What differentiates statistics from data science? And how does the design of experiments fit in with data science? 

In this webinar, Dr Emi Tanaka will talk about the concept of the "grammar" and the momentum it is gaining to make data analysis more accessible to a diverse group. She'll then present her prototype to the "grammar of experimental design" - a framework to construct the design of comparative experiments that cognitively enforces the experimental structure. She’ll explain some principles behind this prototype, showcase how her developmental R-package edibble will work, and how she thinks it helps to bridge the gap between experimental design theory and practice for the wider community.

Register here

Statistics in the Capital...Knibbs Lecture: A personal tour with Raymond Carroll

SSA Canberra invites you to attend this year's Knibbs lecture, which will be presented by Prof. Raymond Carroll (Texax A&M). Prof Carroll will provide a personal tour of his experience in developing statistical methods to understand how to measure dietary intakes in a population and how to relate such measures to mortality and chronic diseases. The lecture will also celebrate the 60th birthday of Prof. Alan Welsh (ANU), and his contributions to statistics.  

Date and time: 

Tuesday 24th November; 12:30pm-1:45pm AEDT.  

Learn more and RSVP here

In 2020, AMSI BioInfoSummer is going virtual! Hosted by The Australian National University (ANU), attendees will participate online over the four-day program to develop their bioinformatics skills, national networks and employability.

Featuring presentations, workshops and program extras from the best in the bioinformatics field from Australia and abroad, the AMSI BioInfoSummer 2020 program is jam packed. Start each morning with a mix of computational and biology focused lectures and research talks. Then develop your skills during the hands-on workshops. Round out your week with an interactive careers session, ePoster competition and public lecture.

Full four-day conference registrations start from $60! 

Find out more

AMSI Summer School 2021 offers eight exciting subjects by specialist lecturers from around Australia and students can study one or two subject areas including one subject for credit.

Honours and postgraduate students in the mathematical sciences and cognate disciplines are invited to register their interest for this event, as well as researchers and professionals who may wish to get involved in the program extras offered at the AMSI Summer School.

To maximise the students’ experience, the School will feature domestic keynote speakers, researchers and/or lecturers, as well as a number of program extras including social events, a special guest public lecture, a careers session, and a Diversity in STEM panel event.

SSA is a proud sponsor of this event.

Interested in finding out more about Summer School 2021?

Join the AMSI Summer School Mailing List

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

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