14 January 2021

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

I hope that all of our members had a restful break over the Christmas and New Year period and are ready to tackle the challenges of 2021. And it seems that those challenges have already started, with recent COVID-19 outbreaks leading to restrictions, lockdowns and state border closures. We can't farewell the virus as easily as we can say farewell to 2020, and such disruptions are likely to occur from time to time throughout 2021!

Luckily, SSA will continue to offer online events throughout 2021, including our conference (ANZSC2021, 5 to 9 July): keep your eyes on the Events Calendar for events coming to a screen near you!

Jessica Kasza
SSA President

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A tribute to SSA Honorary Member Ken Brewer

Ken Brewer, one of the giants of survey sampling, passed away peacefully in the early hours of 3 January, 2021 in Canberra.

Ken was a great scholar, very wise and showed interests in many areas of statistical applications, on which he published extensively.  He had also published two books and over 100 papers on survey sampling, many of which were highly cited.

Apart from his academic achievements, Ken was also a very kind man.  He never stopped sharing his insights and knowledge on statistics with the more junior colleagues.  He also generously offered help to many others in the different stages of their career - I was one of those who benefitted from his advice to settle in Canberra in the mid 1980’s as a new immigrant and, since that time, learned a lot from working alongside with him.

Summarising one of Ken’s most noticeable contributions very well when, announcing Ken’s passing away to the subscribers of the Survey Research Methodology Section of the American Statistician, Phil Knot said:

 “One of Ken Brewer’s most remarkable achievements was a paper effectively summarizing over 20 years of the design-based vs model-based debate, which ranged from Richard Royall’s infamous 1970 Biometrika paper till the model-assisted synthesis coined and described in Sarndal, Swensson, and Wretman’s 1992 Book.  Ken published this paper in the Journal of Australian Statistics in 1963.”

In many areas of research, Ken was ahead of his time.

Ken was an excellent researcher, colleague, friend and teacher to many of us.  Ken will be sorely missed. 

Siu-Ming Tam

The Science & Technology Australia STEM Ambassador Program 

The Science & Technology Australia STEM Ambassador Program connects STEM professionals with their local MP to help bridge the gap between science and government in Australia.

For more information check out the Program Outline and the Statement of Expectations

Applications close midnight, 7 February 2021

Science & Technology Australia STEM Ambassadors represent electorates across Australia and have been matched with their local MPs from the political spectrum who have expressed a desire to build stronger scientific networks.

The program encourages the involvement of science in Australian politics and aims to put science and evidence-based policy on the national agenda.

Each Ambassador will meet regularly with their local MP to build associations between Parliament and the broader STEM sector. It enables federal politicians to gain a deeper understanding of the potential impact of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in Australia.

STA advocates for evidence-based, science-informed policy. The STEM Ambassador Program helps to connect our national decision-makers with scientific experts who can give them direct access to research, data and evidence.

STA supports and empowers STEM professionals to become effective advocates for their sector, to make positive change, and to use their work to help build better policy and shape Australia’s future.

Our 24 STEM Ambassadors come from a wide range of science, technology, and engineering mathematics professions, representing a range of sectors. SSA member and Chair of the Statistical Education Section Peter Howley is one of the current STA Ambassadors. 

Apply Now

Want to get more involved in your Society?

We are seeking volunteers for the following vital roles:

 3x webinar technical support people

You will have:

  • Stable, fast internet connection
  • Reliable computer
  • Ideally, some familiarity with using Zoom (brief, tailored training will be provided)
  • Available for ~20 hours per year (~3 hours/webinar including the practise session, webinar set-up and duration, debrief afterwards, and correspondence, for approximately 6 webinars each year). Webinars can be scheduled around your availability, but are often held during business hours.


  • Meet the speakers and build rapport with prestigious national and international statisticians
  • Hear great talks
  • Enhance your CV
  • The satisfaction of making an essential contribution to SSA

Please email to indicate your interest in any of these.

Would you like to get your work published?

In this recorded session, Significance editor Brian Tarran talks about how you can write for Significance, while Professor Guy Nason, who chairs the Research Section of the RSS, explains the process behind submitting a paper to one of the RSS’ Journals.

Public Lecture: Deriving Insights from New Data Sources
Presented by 
Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen,  Queensland University of Technology, QUT Centre for Data Science and ACEMS on

Thursday 28 January, 6:00pm (AEDT)

One of the major opportunities – and challenges – facing statisticians and data scientists is the diversity of new data sources. These data motivate an expansion of traditional approaches to statistical modelling and encourage new lines of analysis. In this presentation, I will discuss some of our adventures in analysing and integrating data derived from virtual reality, thermal imagery, satellites and crowdsourcing, primarily in the context of conservation.

Dr Mengersen is a Distinguished Professor of Statistics, Director of the QUT Centre for Data Science and Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS). Her research interests include Bayesian methods, dealing with diverse and high-dimensional data, and the interface between statistics and machine learning, with applications in a range of areas including genetic and genomic modelling and analysis.

Register here

RSS OnlineEvents

The RSS recently asked me to let our members know that they are welcome to attend the Royal Statistical Society’s upcoming online events, most of which are free of charge and cover a variety of topics on statistics and data science. The talks are also usually recorded and uploaded to YouTube after the event.

In addition, the RSS offers a training programme which is now also being delivered online. The courses cover a range of subjects on statistics and data science including Bayesian analysis, Python and several courses on R.

More information can be viewed here

Introducing StatChat

Thursday, 28 January 2021, 12:30 AEDT - via Zoom

Have some statistical questions you’d like to discuss with others? Or just want to learn what people are wrestling with and contribute your thoughts? StatChat is a relaxed session where your questions can be answered! Come to ask, answer or listen! At least one senior statistician will be present each time, and this session will feature Adrian Barnett.

Open to SSA members, this event is free, but you will need to register. We are looking forward to seeing you there.

Register here

Develop your online profile - presented by "Science in Public"

As a scientist do you wonder how to use Social Media to promote your work? Will it help advance your career? SSA is holding an online workshop on using public media as a scientist, on 2 February 2021 (11:00 AM - 12:30 PM AEDT).

This event is free for eight lucky members of SSA and eight employees of the ABS. The SSA places have now all been allocated, but we still have ABS places available. If you are with the ABS and you want to participate in this workshop, please contact SSA for the booking code.

With this free event SSA would like to say “thank you” to our members for their loyalty, and to the ABS for its incredible support of SSA.

Save your place

If you have news from the Australian statistical community to share in Stats Matters and Events, please get in touch with us! We love getting feedback too.

The SSA Office will be closed from 15 January until 27 January 2021.
For urgent enquiries please leave a voice message on 02 62513647.

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

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