18 February 2021

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

Thank you for your patience last week, when I could not get the links in the emailed version of the newsletter to work. Thank you as well to everyone who contacted me with suggestions of where the error might lie. I am pleased to report that soon after I had sent out the email with the link to the online version of the newsletter, the links in the version I had emailed to myself miraculously worked again. I am still waiting to hear back from Wild Apricot and learn what the problem was that day, but they are taking their clause of sending a reply within “up to five business days” very literally and until 6pm tonight the fifth business day isn’t over yet.

When you are done reading this newsletter, please check out SSA's newly created Communications Corner, which includes the ECSSN's fantastic new magazine Inferential Interests as well as their new blog. A big thank you to Founding Editor Janan Arslan, Editors-in-Chief Splithoof Rivera and Catriona Croton and everyone on the team who contributed to this great addition to SSA's list of publications.

Marie-Louise Rankin
SSA Executive Officer

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The Early Career & Student Statisticians Conference (ECSSC) 2021 will be held on 26 July to 1 August 2021. We are delighted to announce that we will be holding our conference virtually! ECSSC2021 will bring together the best students and early-career professionals in statistics and data analysis from all around Australia. This event is not to be missed!

To keep up-to-date with ECSSC2021, please go to the official conference website.

ECSSC News - Call For Abstract Submissions

In view of the current challenges faced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Early Career & Student Statisticians Conference (ECSSC) 2021 committee invites abstract submissions for a special virtual conference.
ECSSC is a biennial conference for students and early career statisticians sponsored by the Statistical Society of Australia. The conference programme allows several abstracts from this call to be presented as either a virtual presentation or a virtual poster presentation. The committee would like to encourage early career statisticians or students to submit their abstract for review.

Abstracts are considered in one or more of the following topics:

• Agricultural Statistics
• Bayesian Modelling
• Bioinformatics
• Biostatistics
• Commerce/Economics/Finance
• Computational Statistics
• Data Analytics/Computer Science
• Data Management
• Education/Career Development
• Environmental Statistics
• Mathematical Statistics
• Population Statistics

Abstracts that are submitted can only be presented in one of the formats (i.e., either virtual presentation or virtual poster but not both). All submitted abstracts will be reviewed by the Conference Committee’s Abstract Submission Managers.
All abstracts must follow the general abstract submission guidelines. To submit your abstract please click here. Only abstracts submitted through the online submission panel will be considered. Technical details about the format of virtual presentations and virtual posters will be provided later.
The deadline is 31st May 2021 at 11:59 PM AEST. Notifications will be sent out by Mid-June 2021.
If you have any queries or concerns, please contact our Abstract Submissions Managers via e-mail at
We look forward to receiving your abstracts.

ECSSC Committee

Dear statisticians in Australia and New Zealand,

I’m writing to inform you of a threat to the existence of statistical consulting at the Australian National University in Canberra. On 17 February 2021 a proposal was released by the Portfolio of Research & Innovation to disestablish the Statistical Consulting Unit (SCU).

The SCU was formed in 1982 as a collaborative unit that specialises in statistical applications to academic research. Its main role is to provide expert statistical advice to PhD and other research students and staff in study design, data collection and data analysis across all disciplines.

It’s a highly regarded unit and the ANU acknowledges that the SCU provides a valued service for researchers and students across campus. Nonetheless COVID budget pressures have led to this essential part of ANU’s research infrastructure being threatened with closure in the next couple of months.

There is a period of consultation on the proposal for the next two weeks only (closing Wednesday 3 March). If Australia's national research university can consider travelling down this path, then no such services are secure.

Alice Richardson, Director, SCU

The full proposal can be found here.

Do you know about the ADSN?

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

The ADSN is administered by the QUT Centre for Data Science and is governed by a representative from each member entity. The ambition is clearly and deliberately to enhance and expand opportunities and outcomes for all members of the ADSN. SSA is proud to be a partner of the ADSN. 

The ADSN strives to

  • Raise awareness of Australian data science, its applications & benefits
  • Welcome national & international engagement in Australian data science
  • Complement what can be achieved by existing structures and initiatives
  • Recognise that data science embraces diverse expertise and skills
  • Foster trust, sharing, reuse, reproducibility, innovation, collaboration, and learning
  • Catalyse the creative interplay of theory and practice
  • Advocate the consideration of ethical issues in data science application
  • Encourage diverse and representative participation in data science
  • Promote a culture that is safe, supportive, and encouraging to all
Check out the ADSN website here

Joint SSA Canberra + RLadies Canberra Branch Meeting

On 2 March 2021, from 5:30pm AEDT via Zoom 

Gordana Popovic, University of New South Wales, will be presenting "How to see the forest from the trees: Removing pesky artefacts from discrete data for better visualisation"

Data sometimes have artefacts which obscure the patterns we are interested in visualising. You may have come across this when trying to interpret a residual plot from a logistic regression. For discrete data, these are not really artefacts, they are properties of the distribution of the data, like mean-variance relationships and lots of zeros. Generalised linear models and their extensions model the distribution of the data, including these properties, and so are a good way to remove them, to better see the patterns we are actually interested in. I will talk though some concepts and lots of examples of how we can use models to get the best out of our visualisations of discrete multivariate data in R.

Please register in advance for this meeting

SSA Mentoring Program

Are you an early or mid-career statistician looking for support to grow and develop your career? Or, are you a more experienced statistician looking to share your skills and experience with a new generation of statisticians? If either of these sound like you then this program may be for you!

Following a pilot mentoring program hosted by the Biostatistics & Bioinformatics Section in 2020, the Statistical Society of Australia is excited to be launching a new mentoring program for all members of the Society. We are looking for up to 20 mentor-mentee pairs to take part in the 6-month mentoring program. So far we had a good response from mentees, but we'd love to hear from a few more mentors. Please register your interest by Monday, 22 February 2021.

Our aim

This program will connect early and mid-career statisticians to experienced mentors to provide them with career guidance and to share their experiences to help them achieve their professional goals.

Curious? Find out more.

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

Have you heard of SSA’s Distinguished Presenter’s Award?

This award acknowledges the contributions made by SSA’s regular workshop and course presenters who are also members. It is awarded – subject to eligible nominations- annually every December.

As part of the criteria, the nominee has presented at least two workshops or courses for SSA within the previous two years. The nominee, if awarded, agrees to present at least two workshops or courses under the SSA banner within two years from the date of the award. Successful nominees will receive one year of complimentary full membership with SSA. They will also have access to an electronic badge demonstrating their status as a Distinguished Presenter of SSA.

For details, including the exact criteria, please click here.

ViCBiostat Summer School 2021 (Week 2): Modern concepts in clinical trials

22 Feb 2021, 1:30 PM  – 25 Feb 2021, 5:00 PM (AEDT) Via Zoom

Trialists are increasingly turning to designs that can adapt to internal evidence or emerging external factors as the study progresses. This series of workshops provides a comprehensive manual of "How to implement an adaptive trial"; initially using lectures for a nontechnical overview and later computer practicals in both R and Stata to design and implement a simple parallel group design. There will also be a half day workshop introducing the estimand framework (ICH E9 (R1), 2019), which links the estimates of the treatment effect to the trial's objectives, accounting for events that may occur during the trial.

For further information please contact or series convenor Prof Katherine Lee .

Find out more

"Armor the engines: How WWII-era statisticians inspire good business practices"

I came across this news story recently, published in “St George News” on 13 February 2021. It featured Abraham Wald, who had a major impact on the Allied victory in the Second World War. Wald was involved in one of the most top-secret organizations of the war effort –the Statistical Research Group (SRG). The SRG was created to look at the statistics of the war and answer questions for the top brass, finding ways to win the war faster.

During WWII a research group charged with protecting bombers from anti-aircraft fire decided to put extra armour plating on the places found on returning aircraft to have the most bullet and flak-holes. Abraham Wald protested. “No,” he said, “Let’s put the extra shielding on the places where there are no bullet holes.” His logic was that, if the bombers had got back safely, then the places where they had been hit were clearly not vital. It’s a case of how designers and planners can reach the wrong conclusion without a sound statistical approach.

Does this story ring a bell? It did for me. If you have been a member for a while, you would have read this story in SSA’s publication “Statistics: A job for professionals”, published on 2002. Almost twenty years old, the stories featured in this booklet remain as enjoyable now as they were then.

Marie-Louise Rankin

Want to get involved with SSA?

Getting involved with your professional association does take some extra time, but it is a great way to meet other professionals at all career stages in your area of interest. At SSA we find that those members actively engaged with the Society tend to get more out of their membership.

If you have been thinking of how you can get involved, maybe this is the opportunity to need to take the plunge? We are seeking volunteers for the following vital roles:

2 x Social Media Enthusiasts

Main task:

  • Assist in maintaining the Society’s Twitter and/or Facebook account by posting about events, news and curating content for both platforms

Ideally you are

  • Able to dedicate up to 20 hrs a year
  • Familiar with the structure of major social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter
  • Versatile, and adaptable

Some prior knowledge of social scheduling and analytics tools such as Hootsuite, or Tweetdeck would be beneficial but not essential.

1 Video Editor

Main task:

  • Assist with editing SSA’s webinar and seminar videos and upload them to SSA’s
  • YouTube channel

Ideally you would be able to

  • Dedicate up to 20 hrs a year

Some prior knowledge with video editing would be beneficial (imovie, adobe etc.).

Does this tweak your interest? Contact Carmen Lim for more info and to apply for any of these volunteer roles.

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.

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

02 6251 3647 |