18 March 2021

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

Not long now until the Easter long weekend. Due to exorbitant price hiking over long weekends, as well as congested roads, my family and I haven’t been away for Easter for years. You, however, may right now be planning a little get-away, domestic of course, and trying to decide whether or not to travel by plane or car. In fact, I have heard quite a few of my friends say that they would not get on a plane while COVID-19 is looming over us, preferring to take the car. Is this the right decision? Being a statistician, you know the answer to this already, of course: It appears it is not!
I just came across this interesting article in the Washington Post (16 March 2021), which explains why - at least in the US - travel is still safer by air. Does the same apply to travel in Australia, where there are far less cars on the road and the COVID situation is much better? You tell me. 

Anyway – for anyone who is planning a trip in the near future: happy and safe travels, be it by air or in the car.

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer

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The Australian Mathematical Society and Statistical Society of Australia:

Statement on the Inequitable Impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic

The Australian mathematical sciences community, led by the Australian Mathematical Society and the Statistical Society of Australia, released a statement today on the inequitable impacts of the global pandemic on mathematicians. This statement followed and supported a statement communicated earlier by the European Women in Mathematics.

Further recommendations in the Australian context were provided. The full statement and recommendations were emailed to all members of SSA this morning and are also available on the SSA website.

Read the statement and the recommendations here.

David Spiegelhalter: ‘Data Does Not Tell You What To Do'

At the MRS Impact 2021 virtual conference, Sir David Spiegelhalter reflected on how statistics and data have been communicated during the Covid-19 and warned that data alone cannot make decisions.

Katie McQuater summarises the presentation for ResearchLive.

Read the full article here.

SSA March Webinar: Predicting Benefit of Aggressive Treatment for Localized Kidney Cancer Patients Using Modified Principal Stratification with Latent Survival Classes

25 Mar 2021, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PMAEDT, via Zoom.

Presented by Brian Egleston.

Rates of kidney cancer have been increasing, with localized small incidental tumors experiencing the fastest growth rates.

Brian Egleston, Ph.D. will discus how much of the increase could be due to the increased use of CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds for conditions unrelated to kidney cancer. Many of these tumors might never have been detected or become symptomatic in the past. This suggests that many patients might benefit from less aggressive therapy, such as partial rather than total removal of the kidney. It is even possible that some patients do not need treatment for localized kidney cancer.

Brian Egleston, Ph.D. is an Associate Research Professor and Biostatistician at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, USA. The Center is part of the Temple University Health System.

This event is free but you do need to register.

Find out more and register here

The ABS has been measuring the economic and social impacts of COVID-19.

Yesterday they released two interesting COVID-19 related articles:

One year of COVID-19: Aussie jobs, business and the economy

A timeline of significant COVID-19 events and statistical and economic insights over the last year.


How Aussies reacted in a year of COVID-19

A personal look at the effect of COVID-19 on our health, wellbeing, lifestyle, finances and employment.

Have you checked out the ABS’ COVID-19 webpage yet for details and analysis of the pandemic?

ACEMS Virtual Public “The Mathematics of Knots”

with Professor Jessica Purcell, School of Mathematics, Monash University.

1 April 2021, 12.00PM AEDT - online.

We encounter knots in everyday life - for example in phone chargers and shoelaces. A mathematical knot is obtained by fusing together the ends of a phone charger or shoelace.

Mathematicians who study knot theory try to classify different ways of knotting: When can that shoelace be unknotted, or moved through space to have no crossings, without cutting it?  Knots first appeared in mathematical literature in the 1700s, but knot theory really caught on in the late 1800s, when potential applications arose in physics. In modern times, knots appear in protein folding, in strands of DNA, in quantum entanglement, as well as in the usual phone chargers and shoelaces.

In this lecture, Professor Purcell provides an introduction to knots looking closely at some of the modern tools used to study them. The 1-hour lecture will be 45 minutes presentation followed by Q & A.

Please register to receive zoom webinar link

Previously advertised:

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

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

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.

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


Register now:

Early Bird closes

19 May 2021


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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