28 January 2021

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

Recently, I sent a letter of appreciation to one of our members, acknowledging their 50 years of membership. My correspondence with this member led me to reflect on the varied contributions that all of our members make to the Society. These contributions are all appreciated: whether that contribution be being an SSA member and attending occasional events, joining a Branch Council or a Society committee, or taking part in any of the Society’s activities. Without our members, the SSA would not exist. So, whether you’re in your first or your fiftieth year of membership, and whatever your contribution to the Society, we’re glad that you’re here!

Kind regards

Jessica Kasza
SSA President

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Call for members of the SSA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee

The SSA is calling for members who are interested in contributing to the newly-established Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. The EDI Committee, chaired by the SSA President, will meet every one to two months via Zoom, and members are expected to serve a term of one to two years. The EDI Committee will be charged with making recommendations to the Executive Committee regarding how the SSA can ensure that it is a truly equitable, diverse, and inclusive society. Expressions of interest close on February 26, and can be made at the form available here

WA's first female maths professor lands top award in Australia Day honours list

Cheryl Praeger, WA's first female mathematics professor, is now a Companion of the Order of Australia.

The University of Western Australia's Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger, winner of the Prime Minister's prize for science, WA Women's Science Hall of Fame inductee, and recipient of many other awards and postings, has been appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia, the highest honour in the Australia Day awards.

Congratulations, Cheryl!

Find out more

I apologise in advance for the overload of news on COVID-19 developments below, but there were so many  interesting articles  in the media this week, that I was unable to choose between them. In the end I decided to simply include them all.

Marie-Louise Rankin
SSA Executive Officer

Anatomy of our battle against COVID-19

On the one-year anniversary this week of the arrival of the first COVID-19 cases in Australia, the ABC's Digital Story Innovation Team created a visual journey through the last twelve months that makes fascinating reading/viewing.

View it here

COVID-19: Who has been most affected by the virus as UK passes 100,000 deaths?

Professor Jennifer Rogers, Vice President at the Royal Statistical Society, is working with ITV News as their COVID statistician, making sense of coronavirus data. What did she learn?

Find out here

Revealed: The Jobs With The Highest COVID Death Rates

The latest figures released by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that manual labourers, nurses and transport workers have some of the highest death rates involving Covid-19 compared to other professions.

The figures cover the period from 9 March to 28  December 2020 and show how many people working in different industries died of coronavirus during this time. It calculates a working age population of those aged 20 to 64. 

The figures differ for men and women but, according to the report, manual labour had the highest death rate for men and nurses were more than twice as likely as their peers to die of coronavirus.

Want to know more? Click here.

Behind the numbers: what does it mean if a Covid vaccine has ‘90% efficacy’?

As statisticians you are probably well aware of the answer to this question. In the segment "The weekly stats uncovered", a regular feature in "The Guardian", some rather big names in statistics endeavour to explain what it all means. 

Sir David Spiegelhalter OBE FRS is chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at Cambridge. Anthony Masters is a Chartered Statistician and Statistical Ambassador for the Royal Statistical Society.

Read their article here.

Webinar: Introducing the SSA Mentoring Program

17 February 2021, 1:00PM-2:00PM AEDT

Dr Karen Lamb, University of Melbourne and SSA Continuous Professional Development Committee Member

Recognising a need to build better connections between early-career and more established statisticians in Australia, Karen led a pilot mentoring program through the Biostatistics & Bioinformatics Section in 2020. The program involved 10 mentor-mentee pairs from around Australia and ran for 12 months. Karen joined the Continuous Professional Development Committee in 2020 to expand the program broadly across the SSA and has formed a Mentoring Program Committee to support her.

This webinar will provide an overview of the benefits of a mentoring program for the SSA, a discussion of the findings from the mentoring pilot program and an introduction to the Mentoring Program Committee and the program to be launched in March 2021.

Register here

Online course: Sample Size and Power Calculations

2-3 February 2021, Stats Central, UNSW

Power calculations and sample size determination are essential parts of planning a scientific study. In this online course (run over two half-days), we will introduce the basic principles of precision-based and power-based sample size calculations. Using practical examples, we will demonstrate how to perform sample size calculations for common designs in single-sample studies and for comparing groups, as well as discussing practical issues such as multiple comparisons. No knowledge of statistical software will be required.

More details and bookings

ISI Awards - Nominations Now Open

The International Statistical Institute has a number of awards and prizes running currently, to be presented at the Virtual ISI World Statistics Congress 2021. The details are presented here. We invite you to apply or nominate a colleague for one of these awards and prizes, and would also appreciate it if you could circulate the information among those who might be interested.

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

Any questions about this additional opportunity should be taken up with Science and Technology Australia.

You will find more information and the application form 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.

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.

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