21 January 2021

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

Greetings from SSA, where the office is officially closed while I am on leave. After coming back to work for two weeks in early January, I decided to take another week of personal leave to enjoy family time before the new year starts in earnest and our youngest child flies the nest.

January is not a good month for publishing a newsletter for statisticians, as there hasn't been much happening. So since I don't have any new statistics-related offerings, and on the occasion of Joe Biden's inauguration, I thought I'd share the following insightful article by Fintan O'Toole of The Guardian with with you: "Can Joe Biden make America great again?".  Will he be able to repair the damage done to the country, to the understanding of many of its people of democracy?

Kind regards

Marie-Louise Rankin
SSA Executive Officer

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In Memoriam: Seppo S. Laaksonen

Seppo S. Laaksonen, ISI Elected member and Professor Emeritus of Social Statistics in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki, passed away on 20 December 2020.

SSA Chair of the Official Statistics Section, Stephen Horn, reflects on a personal and an Australian link to Laaksonen in an article published on the SSA website, which may be of interest to the Official Statistics community.

Read the article here

A new website for the The Australian Data Science Network (ADSN)

The Australian Data Science Network (ADSN) aims to connect concentrations of expertise in data science across Australia, in order to improve communication, encourage collaboration, expand opportunities, and promote individual and collective capabilities.

Check out the new ADSN website and connect on Twitter.

Previously advertised

Science Meets Parliament 2021

SSA is delighted to announce that in 2021 it will be once more involved in Science & Technology’s Science meets Parliament . This year marks the 21st time STA has held this flagship event since it was created in 1999.

For the first time ever, it will be held in a mostly virtual format. This will enable it to be both COVID-safe and bigger than ever - with virtual attendance opening up access for STEM professionals and politicians across the country.

For 21 years, STA has been developing the advocacy skills of STEM professionals and connecting them to decision makers to nurture strong relationships between the STEM sector and Government, policymakers and the Parliament.

The SmP21 event series will be delivered from 2 March – 1 April. It will include pre-conference sessions from 2 – 11 March, the main conference from 15 -17 March, Parliamentary meetings from 18 March – 1 April, a National Gala Dinner to be held in person on March 29, and several other great add-on sessions to be announced in coming months. A very strong line-up of excellent speakers will start being announced shortly.

More details, including the program, can be found here.

SSA will sponsor one member to attend STA’s signature event. Early career statisticians are particularly encouraged to apply. Please email your expression of interest, explaining your reasons why you think this event could be of benefit to you, and your CV to before 8 February 2021.

In addition, 2021 STA are offering members the opportunity to apply for eight scholarships to attend the 21st-anniversary Science meets Parliament.

Two (2) Scholarships are open to STEM practitioners in each of the following categories: 

  • Indigenous STEM Scholarships for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people
  • STEM Pride scholarships for people who identify as LGBTQI+
  • Regional STEM scholarships for STEM practitioners who work in remote or regional Australia (>150km from a major capital city)
  • Technology scholarships for STEM practitioners working in the technologically based areas of engineering and information technology.

Applications will close on 17 February 2021, with recipients to be contacted by 23 February and an announcement made shortly after.

You will find more information and the application to apply here.

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.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.

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

Applications for the 2021 Program close midnight, 7 February 2021

Find out more and apply here

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.

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.

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.

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