11 March 2021

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

With the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines around Australia and the easing of restrictions around the country, many of us are slowly returning to our pre-pandemic lives. However, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt across the statistical community. The SSA recently partnered with the Australian Mathematical Society in a statement about the disproportionate impacts that the pandemic has had on women and early career people working in the mathematical sciences. This statement will be released soon.

The pandemic has had a very real impact on statisticians, and mathematical scientists more broadly, within universities in Australia. While the need for statistical literacy in the population has never been clearer, many universities in Australia are slashing statistics and maths degrees, units, and staff. Two recent examples are cuts to mathematical sciences at Murdoch University and the proposed disestablishment of the Statistical Consulting Unit at the Australian National University. The SSA has been working with other groups and societies on responses to these proposed cuts, emphasising the importance of statistical training, support, and research.

Please get in touch with me if you’re aware of any proposed changes: the SSA is here to fight for statistics and statisticians in Australia. 

Jessica Kasza
SSA President

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Australian scientists changing the world recognised with Academy awards

Outstanding contributions to science were recognised by the Australian Academy of Science today with 24 current and future stars of science receiving prestigious 2021 honorific awards.

The scientists’ discoveries are changing the world, including revealing the physics of sea-level change, leading the discovery of gravitational waves, harnessing the immune system to fight cancer, answering unsolved mathematical problems and creating cheap, flexible, stable and non-toxic solar cells.

Congratulations to all the Australian Academy of Science #honorifics21 recipients. We recognize many familiar mathematicians and statisticians among the awardees, such as long-term SSA members Christopher Drovandi and Janice Scealy, as well as Cheryl Praeger, Mathai Varghese, Kevin Coulembier and Vera Roshchina.

Find out more

How the ABS became our secret weapon

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the WHO declaring COVID-19 a pandemic. In an article published by “The Conversation” on 9 March 2021, Peter Martin explains how the Australian government got most things right in the economic management of the COVID-19 crisis, because it knew more about the granular detail of what was happening than any government before it.

Read the full article here

New CPD Survey Out now

SSA’s CPD (Continuing Professional Development) Committee is conducting a survey to help us understand what type professional development our members are interested in.

The information will be used to determine

  • Which workshops or course topics our members would be particularly interested in attending
  • Which workshops or course topics our members would be interested and presenting
  • The level of interest in getting engaged with SSA’s mentorship program.

We invite you to complete the survey and appreciate your time and feedback. Your responses will help to shape SSA’s CPD program for the remainder of the year and beyond

The survey will take between 5 to 10 minutes and closes on 15 May 2021.

Thank you!

Kind regards,

CPD Committee

Start the survey

Trailblazing women in statistics

A brief historical introduction to nine women who were trailblazers in the statistical sciences is presented. During their times, men dominated the profession. Yet we see how these women in their various ways blazed trails and as such became mentors and inspirations for generations of women practitioners who worked with them and followed in their footsteps.

Read the article by Lynne Billard and Katherine K. Wallman

On the occasion of International Women’s Day earlier this week, SSA’s Vice President Carmen Lim (Communication) created this fantastic collage showcasing some of Australia’s finest women in statistics.

Parallel Tempering on Optimized Paths

The Bayesian Section of the SSA is pleased to invite you the following webinar:

Parallel Tempering on Optimized Paths

1 Apr 2021, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM AEDT via Zoom

Parallel tempering (PT) is a class of Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithms that constructs a path of distributions annealing between a tractable reference and an intractable target, and then interchanges states along the path to improve mixing in the target. However, past work on PT has used only simple paths constructed from convex combinations of the reference and target log-densities. In this talk we will show that this path performs poorly in the common setting where the reference and target are nearly mutually singular. To address this issue, we will present an extension of the PT framework to general families of paths, formulate the choice of path as an optimization problem that admits tractable gradient estimates, and present a flexible new family of spline interpolation paths for use in practice.

Presenter: Trevor Campbell is an assistant professor of statistics at the University of British Columbia.

This event is free but you do need to register. 

Register here

NSW Branch: 2021 AGM followed by the

H.O. Lancaster Lecture by Professor Adrian Barnett: -

24th March 2021,The University of Sydney from 4pm AEDT.

Carefully conducted medical research can transform lives by providing robust evidence for what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately careful research is rarely rewarded, instead the volume or “prestige” of the research is what matters for researchers’ careers. This drives a search for interesting findings that are highly publishable but not robust. Publishable results are often enabled by bad statistics, with many researchers using the wrong methods or using the right methods badly. There is an absurd focus on “significant” p-values even though most researchers cannot correctly define a p-value. The situation is getting worse, as a massive increase in paper numbers is making it hard for journals to filter the good from the bad. 

For more information and to register click here

Student top-up scholarships

We have launched a new scheme to help statistics students in Australia. We will award four top-up scholarships to current higher degree students who are members of the society. Each award will be $5,000 per year. The scheme is open to part-time or full-time students, and to domestic or international students. For full details and the application form go to our web page. The deadline for applications is Friday, 23 April 2021.

This is a new scheme, so there may things to iron-out. If you have any questions, then please e-mail Adrian Barnett. We hope this new scheme will be tremendously successful and become a regular annual award that will support lots of our students.

SSA online workshop - Data Visualisation with R by Di Cook and Emi Tanaka

15 and 16 April 2021, 9:00 AM 12:30 PM AEST

Statistical Society of Australia (SSA) Canberra branch warmly invites you to a workshop on Data Visualisation with R, taught by Prof. Di Cook and Dr. Emi Tanaka.

Early bird registration for this workshop closes 31 March and places are filling up fast. If you wish to attend, please make sure to register and lock in your place soon.  

To find out more and to register click here

Do not delay and submit your ANZSC and OZCOTS abstract for the inaugural virtual conference by Monday 15 March 2021. Abstract submissions are open to all members and non-members across all disciplines. 

Authors with ANZSC/OZCOTS 2020 accepted papers are welcome to edit their submissions.

Click on the link below to submit or edit your abstract.

Find out more, register here and/or submit your abstract

ISBA 2021

The 2021 World Meeting of the International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA 2021) will be held online from 28 June to 22 July 2021. Registration will be free to everyone before 1 May 2021. The deadline for abstract submissions is 15 March. For more information and to register, see the conference website. The “ABC in Svalbard” workshop on approximate Bayesian computation will also be fully online, on 12 - 13 April. A local mirror at QUT in Brisbane is planned, possibly also with mirrors in other Australian cities. More details to follow.

On behalf of the executive committee, Bayesian Section of SSA

Previously advertised:

SSA Vic Branch AGM

The Victorian Branch will be having its Annual General Meeting on 16 March from 17:30 to 18:00 AEDT via Zoom. We invite you to attend the meeting, voice any thoughts you have on the outgoing and incoming years, and elect our Council for 2021. We will distribute the Annual Report and other relevant documentation prior to the AGM.

If you wish to be on the Council for 2021, please send an email nominating yourself to and copy in a current member of the Branch who is willing to second your nomination. The same goes for voting via proxy - if you are unable to attend and wish another member to vote on your behalf, please send an email to, stating which member you would like to act as your proxy.

You must be logged in to your SSA account on the website in order to register for the AGM. If you have any difficulties please email the Vic branch using the above email address.

Following the conclusion of the AGM there will be a talk, with details to be announced soon.

Click here to register

The statistical quandaries of an ecologist: Applied and theoretical statistics for conservation

The Victorian Branch, together with the Environmental Statistics Section, welcomes you to our first talk of the year, to be given by Dr David Wilkinson. On 16 March 2021 at 6PM AEDT via zoom.

At opposite ends of the spectrum, the field of ecology attracts both die-hard field ecologists who prefer to spend most of their time out in the wild collecting data, and hardcore statisticians looking to apply their skills to complex, real life systems. Quantitative ecology is where the two overlap, but communication isn't always easy. In this talk Dr Wilkinson will be using aspects of his own work to illuminate some of the statistical quandaries faced by ecologists when they're working with either applied or theoretical statistics.

Please register here

Introduction to Machine Learning for Health Data

8-9 July 2021, Adelaide

SSA and Flinders University are proudly offering this workshop with Presenter Dr Oscar Perez-Concha, Centre for Big Data Research in Health, UNSW Sydney.

This course introduces the basics for understanding and using machine learning algorithms.

We will discuss the machine learning workflow, from clearly defining our research question to the rationale behind choosing different machine learning techniques for different scenarios, highlighting questions such as over-fitting/under-fitting, missing data, and interpretability. We will focus on the principles behind some of the most used supervised learning algorithms.

For more information and to register, please click here.

Call for Nominations - SSA Vice President

The term of office of SSA’s current Vice President, Professor Adrian Barnett, will expire at the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting of Central Council this year. Nominations are now invited for the position of SSA Vice President (President Elect). The position will involve one year as Vice President, then two years as President followed by a further year as Vice President.  More details about the position can be found in this compilation of position descriptions. Nominations should be sent to the SSA Secretary, Doug Shaw, at before c.o.b. on Friday, 12 March 2021.

SSA Canberra AGM + Outgoing president's talk

30 Mar 2021, 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM  AEDT via Zoom

5:15pm-5:30pm: Zoom meeting opens and pre-seminar mingling 

5:30-6pm: Annual General Meeting on Zoom

6-6:45pm: Outgoing El-presidente  presentation on Zoom

SpeakerFrancis Hui, Australian National University

Topic: My Journey into Spatial Confusing  Confounding

Virtual pre-drinks and nibbles are provided, but they don't taste as good as the real thing!

Please register in advance for this meeting here

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact

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! Register now!

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

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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