25 March 2021

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

As I am looking out the window, the sun is shining for the first time in a week. The world looks fabulous. It makes it hard to imagine that in other parts of the country, people are starting the harrowing task of cleaning up their homes and properties, starting to pick up the pieces of their former lives, having to start afresh after the devastating floods. My thoughts go out to anyone affected by the floods. At times like this you should not have to worry about paying your membership fee, so if you are financially impacted by this tragedy, please email me.

With the treatment of women being very much the centre of media attention right now, articles on gender equality are everywhere. Or is it just a case of heightened awareness that makes me notice them more? Our daughter recently introduced me to the game Spotto, and now – unlike before - I see yellow cars all around (if you don’t know how to play Spotto, click here). An interesting article on gender equality that I came across today stated that according to the report “Women, Business and the Law 2021”, recently published by the World Bank, only ten countries have full equal rights for women. Did you know that? By the way, Australia is not one of them.
You can read the article here, and the full report is available here. A staggering number of countries still have a lot of catching up to do.

I had better keep it short…There is a lot to get through below.

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer

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Significance Magazine – big news

“Hold the front web page!” SSA members now get free access to the online version of Significance Magazine as part of their membership.

The Statistical Society of Australia is partnering with the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) and the American Statistical Association (ASA) to co-produce this magazine, which publishes statistics and data science articles aimed at a general audience.

For our members, this means that – from June 2021 – you can read each issue of the magazine as soon as it is published (via the Wiley Online Library). There’s also a sizeable discount for those who want a print copy (check the SSA website for more information).

Since 2004, Significance has been a great place to read about topical issues in statistics. In the past year, it has featured articles about the Covid-19 pandemic, the use (and misuse) of statistics in advertising, explainers on synthetic data and measurement error, and a special issue marking the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale.

With SSA on board as a partner, Significance is looking to expand the reach of its coverage and to feature more news, case studies, opinion pieces and interviews that are of interest and relevance to the Australian statistical community, and beyond.

To help achieve this aim, SSA is looking to appoint two of its members to join the editorial board of Significance. Editorial board members help shape and steer the content of Significance: they develop article ideas, write articles of their own, identify potential contributors, and review submissions prior to publication. If you are interested in finding out more about this role, and have a passion for making statistics accessible and engaging to all, please contact Adrian Barnett.

The aim of our new partnership with Significance, the RSS and ASA is to promote statistics to a new audience, and to find new contributors with fascinating stories to tell about the power of statistics and data science. So, if you are interested in not only reading the magazine but writing for it too, we encourage you to review the magazine’s aims and scope, its notes for contributors, and to contact Brian Tarran, editor of Significance, to discuss your article idea. (Brian also gave a talk for RSS last year about writing for Significance, which you can find on YouTube.)

Adrian Barnett
Vice President

Australian Statistician launches new technical series

Last Friday, the Australian Statistician, Dr David Gruen, launched The Australian Statistician’s Technical Series. This series will present analysis and discussion of new developments in the statistical methods used by the ABS. It aims to inform the community, stimulate discussion and invite feedback about important technical issues. It complements the Analytical Series Dr Gruen launched last June.

The first article in the series, released on 19 March 2021, is on the topic “Confidentiality in ABS Microdata”.

All national statistical organisations seek to appropriately balance the competing goals of providing statistical information that is as useful as possible while safeguarding data confidentiality. The ABS balances these goals using an approach based on the internationally recognised Five Safes framework.

This article shares the ABS’s experience using the Five Safes to design different data access solutions for different data products.

Read the full media release here.

SSA ECSSN T-shirt is now available!

The winning SSA ECSSN t-shirt design by Ben Harrap is now available to be purchased. Visit Das T-Shirt Automat to buy your fabulous t-shirt today! The cost is $40 ($30 for students) plus shipping. There are two styles available: the one pictured here, and a more fitted scoop neck version. All proceeds will go towards supporting early career and student statisticians.

Click here to read how Ben came up with and developed this wonderful design in homage to some of Australia’s great statisticians.

The impact of COVID-19 on women in the STEM workforce in the Asia-Pacific region

The Australian Academy of Science, in partnership with the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, is seeking information on the impact of COVID-19 on women in the STEM workforce in the Asia-Pacific region. The chair of Steering Committee of this project is Prof Cheryl Prager, Fellow and former Foreign Secretary of the Academy. The link to the survey and a call for personal stories are below, and we encourage all members to contribute, by 31 March 2021.        

Call for personal stories

Another legal setback for Andreas Georgiou - your continued support requested

The following message was received from Steve Pierson, American Statistical Association, just today. Can you help?

"Dear All,

I write to you as the signers of the 2018 petition in support of Andreas Georgiou.

Unfortunately, a Greek appeals court has found former Greek chief statistician Andreas Georgiou liable for slander. The slander charges pertain to a public statement Georgiou made in his official role as president of the national statistics office of Greece (ELSTAT) while fulfilling his responsibility to defend the official deficit and debt statistics for Greece produced under his leadership (which have been fully validated by Eurostat—the statistical office of the EU).  Statements from the American Statistical  Association and further details are at this url: Greece's prosecution of Georgiou on several closely related charges is now in its tenth year with the initial legal proceedings against him having begun in September 2011.

We request your continued support for Andreas Georgiou. One way to do this is through social media posts—both Twitter and LinkedIn—deploring the continuing persecution, and calling for it to end and Georgiou to be exonerated. Please use these hashtags for social media posts: #JusticeForGeorgiou and #AndreasGeorgiou. Here is a sample social media post you could adapt and post:

I’m saddened to see Greece’s persecution of its former chief statistician #AndreasGeorgiou w an appeals court decision finding him liable of slander. Now in 10th year, #Greece should end the injustice and exonerate him. #JusticeForGeorgiou #DataIntegrity

Thank you for your support in ending the unjust persecution of Andreas Georgiou.



Projecting Our Voice

Increasing the Public Voice of Statistics, the second of ISI strategic priorities, is ISI President John Bailer’s focus in his blog this month. John warns his readers that there are homework assignments embedded in his column!

The ISI seeks to adopt a higher public profile on statistical issues, an aspiration identified by ISI members in the last member survey. Some of these issues were: the image of statistics and the place of the profession; promoting best practice in statistics; data science and data analytics and the collaboration with computer science; being a champion for the public value of good statistical information and analysis, including topical and challenging issues; promoting the value of Open Data; defending statistical integrity and ethical standards; being particularly active with politicians and the media; and debating the use and misuse of statistics.

Read John’s column here.

News from the Official Statistics Section

The following message was received this week from John Pullinger, President of the International Association of Official Statistics:

“Dear IAOS friends and colleagues,

I am writing to advise you that our eminent colleague Lars Lyberg died earlier this month.  Lars was the founder of the Journal of Official Statistics, and served as Chief Editor for more than 25 years.  A prolific author, Lars wrote or edited a number of books which have been fundamental to improving the work of official statistics, including Measurement Errors in Surveys (1991), Introduction to Survey Quality (2003), Survey Methods in Multicultural, Multinational and Multiregional contexts (2010) and Total Survey Error in Practice (2017).

Lars was also one of the founders of a number of highly successful annual workshops including the International Workshop on Household Survey  Nonresponse, International Total Survey Error Workshop and International Comparative Survey Design and Implementation Workshop and served on many intetnational advisory committees.

On behalf of the IAOS and the International Official Statistics community, I extend our sympathies to his family and close friends.

The virtual funeral service for Lars will be on Friday March 26. You can find the link to the service on Lars’ memorial page under the heading “links” (or “länkar” in Swedish), here

John Pullinger

IAOS President”

I had first met Lars at the Fourth Workshop on Survey nonresponse in

1994 and on later occasions, most recently at a congenial; gathering on the shores of a lake in the centre of Sweden on midsummers day (all engineered of course) of about 30 people interested in improving survey quality. One of the entertainments (the principal one as it happens, and appropriate for a dour Lutheran-inflected country) was a (self-propelled) expedition in one of the large church boats - used to ferry villagers living around the lake to church on Sunday. With Lars in the stern and 20 odd bewildered statisticians manning oars we set out on the choppy waters of the lake in the vague direction of a bush sauna . I was promoted to stroke because Canberra was misheard as Cambridge (and assumed that anyone from there could row) but the overwhelming confidence exuded from the stern and some hearty splashing ensured we did not make the news that day.

Lars was an inspiration to a generation of official statisticians. His mission was to advance Tore Dalenius' programme of bringing method to the everyday work of collection agencies.  JOS was a principal outlet for this and a first port of call for agency statisticians in Australia with something new to say on editing, or adjustment or data quality. 

As the originator or at least populariser of the expression 'paradata'

he would bring the two arms of survey research - cognitive experimentation, and adjustment/ quality assurance - together in the sort of dialogue in evidence on that midsummer day on a lake in central Sweden.

Stephen Horn
Chair, Official Statistics Section

International Prize in Statistics Awarded to Nan Laird

The 2021 International Prize in Statistics has been awarded to US biostatistician Nan Laird in recognition of her work on powerful methods that have made possible the analysis of complex longitudinal studies.

The International Prize in Statistics is awarded every two years by a collaboration among five leading international statistics organizations. The prize recognizes a major achievement by an individual or team in the statistics field, particularly an achievement of powerful and original ideas that has led to practical applications and breakthroughs in other disciplines.

Laird will receive the prize, which comes with an $80,000 award, this July at the biennial International Statistical Institute World Statistics Congress, which will be held virtually. 

Read the full media release

2022 Australian Government Data Graduate Recruitment

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), is recruiting over 150 data graduate roles for over 20 Australian Public Service (APS) agencies

As an Australian Government Data Graduate you will have the opportunity to support evidence-based, informed decision making, and work across all aspects of government such as policy development, research, program management and service delivery.

Data graduate roles cover the full data lifecycle including survey and questionnaire development, research, data acquisition, data engineering and data analysis, as well as more specialised streams such as data science, methodology, geospatial analysis and data management.

There are various data roles such as data acquisition officers, methodologists, data engineering, researchers, geospatial analysts, data consultants.

As a 2022 Data Graduate, you have the opportunity be part of the Data Graduate Network as well as become a member of the APS Data Professional stream. You will have access to events, forums and webinars with industry experts that will help build skills and advance your career.

The ABS are looking for highly motivated graduates from a wide array of disciplines and life experiences, who want to play a part in shaping Australia's future and informing the decision making process.

There are no requirements for any particular degrees or disciplines though people who have undertaken data subjects are more likely to be successful. The types of backgrounds graduates are from include analytics, actuarial studies, business, commerce, computer science, data management, data science or mining, demography, economics, econometrics, engineering, finance, mathematics or mathematical modelling, machine learning, psychology, risk and intelligence analysis, social sciences and statistics.

There are 150-170 vacancies available. Applications close on 11 Apr 2021.
Successful applicants will start on 3 Feb 2022.

Learn more

Meet 30 women in analytics in Australia

IAPA, the Institute of Analytics Professionals of Australia, celebrated International Women’s Day this year with a spotlight on over 30 women in analytics in Australia.

“Australian businesses can improve their competitive position by embracing diversity – especially in analytics, data science and machine learning. Just look at the women in the IAPA spotlight to see the value, insight and skill these analytics professionals bring to the table,” said Annette Slunjski, Managing Director, IAPA.

“No matter where in your analytics journey your organization sits – from “what happened and why” analysis through to advanced analytics that includes artificial intelligence using machine learning – improving team diversity will improve insights and outcomes.”

Check out more than 30 profiles of Women in Analytics
Read: Women in Analytics: Why diversity matters for the future of business

Previously advertised

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

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

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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