1 April 2021

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

It may be 1 April today, but I assure you that we have not hidden any April fool jokes below.

Hopefully your Easter break will not be affected too much by lock-downs, border closures and other travel restrictions. Whether you are staying at home or travelling (or even working!), stay safe and enjoy yourself. And never underestimate the benefits of eating chocolate.

My office hours will be irregular next week, but if you leave a voice- or email message I will attend to it as quickly as I can.

Have a good break!

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer

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Statistical Society of Australia - Joint Victoria & Canberra Branch Panel Event

The Rise and Rise of Data Science Centres and Institutes

20 Apr 2021, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM AEST - Online

The past five years has witnessed the birth and growth of a number of cross-disciplinary data science centres and institutes across Australia, as universities (in particular) invest more time and resources into research and education in the data science space. But what exactly is the aim of such centres and institutes? And where does statistics, and the traditional model of a statistics department fit into this?

In this joint event between the Victoria and Canberra branches of the SSA, we have the pleasure of hearing from 

  • Prof. Kerrie Mengersen - Director of QUT Centre for Data Science,
  • Prof. Eric Stone - Director of ANU Biological Data Science Institute, and
  • Prof. Joanna Batstone - Director of Monash Data Futures Institute.

They will share their views and visions for how such centres are organised and run. An open discussion panel will then follow where the audience can ask questions and contribute their own diverse viewpoints (of which we expect many!). Come join us to hear about the future of data science.

To register, click here.

ISI World Statistics Congress - reduced registration fee for two SSA members

The 63rd ISI World Statistics Congress will be held virtually from 11-16 July 2021. It will bring together statisticians and data scientists from academia, official statistics, health sector and business, junior and senior professionals, in an inviting virtual environment. The inspiring and interactive programme will provide the platform to learn about the latest developments in statistical research and practice in an informal ambiance.

The scientific programme will introduce the latest developments in statistical research and practice through presentations, discussions and a series of short courses; the virtual exhibition will showcase the work and products of those who support our profession.

Our “very own” Professor Kerrie Mengersen is the ISI President’s Invited Speaker for the Virtual WSC 2021. Kerrie is Distinguished Professor of Statistics at Queensland University of Technology in the Faculty of Science and an incoming Vice-President of the ISI. Her work spans Bayesian statistics, computational statistics, environmental, genetic and health statistics, statistical consulting and more including citizen science. She was a guest on the Stats+Stories podcast Stats in Celebration of Earth Day & Explaining Bayes Better a few years ago – click on the links to hear the episodes and to get a preview of what you might expect from her WSC 2021 lecture.

SSA is a member of the ISI and as a result two of our members are entitled to reduced registration fees for the conference. This brings the early bird fee down to EUR155. Interested? Please email me and I will advise the ISI that you will be our representative. Places will be given away on a first-come - first-serve basis. Selected delegates will be asked to write an article for SSA's weekly newsletter about their conference experience  post-event.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 'on track' for August Census

Speaking at Senate Estimate last week, Deputy Australian statistician Teresa Dickinson said preparations for the next Census are well advanced. With only four months to go until the 10 August event, the ABS just has some testing and defect remediation to do, but it said it's otherwise 'on track'.

The 2021 Census will be built using the Amazon Web Services cloud through a contract awarded to PwC Australia. This should avoid any any repeats of what occurred in 2016, when the ABS experienced a series of small denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, suffered a hardware router failure, and baulked at a false positive report of data being exfiltrated which resulted in the Census website being shut down and citizens unable to complete their online submissions. The 2016 Census, run on a platform created by IBM, shut down at the most crucial time for nearly 48 hours.

Read the full article by Asha Barbaschow (ZDNet) here.

How Covid-19 is changing the world: a statistical perspective

The third volume of “How COVID-19 is changing the world: a statistical perspective” is now available. It is based on the findings made by the United Nations and all member organizations of the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities (CCSA) and it makes fascinating reading.

It has now been over a year since the pandemic began, and the report presents the statistics that quantify the year-on-year impacts of this terrible crisis and begin to hint at what a recovery and “post-COVID” world might look like. Some key findings include:

  • 8.8 percent of global working hours were lost in 2020, equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs, an amount that is four times greater than the job losses during the 2009 financial crisis.
  • COVID-19 is estimated to have pushed 119-124 million people into poverty in 2020, a substantial increase from earlier estimates.
  • Aviation passenger traffic declined by 60 percent in 2020, while shipping activity—as measured by vessel port calls—likely declined by around 10 percent.
  • The Human Development Index recorded its first drop since 1990 due to the pandemic, which has erased decades of progress in the female labour participation rate.
  • International tourism recorded its worst year ever on record; international tourism declined by 74 percent.
  • CO2 emissions declined 6 percent in 2020 largely attributable to reduced activity in aviation and transport. As countries undertake recovery efforts, many are including green and sustainable targets in their planning.
Read the full article and download the report here.

The QUT Centre for Data Science presents 

Population Data: Getting to the Heart of Variability

Thursday, 8 April 2021, 2pm - 3pm (AEST) - online

In this presentation Dr Brodie Lawson will share how population data is invaluable for understanding variability within and between populations, and importantly, its consequences. Armed with some good knowledge of the system of interest, mathematics and computer simulation can provide the answer. Calibrating such simulations to data is its own very well-established topic, but when this data is population data, things become a bit more complicated. We no longer seek some estimate of a bunch of parameters, but instead a description of how these parameters are spread across the population, or at least a sample. This talk demonstrates the key ideas of population calibration, the statistics that underlie it, and the benefits we can get from doing it right.

For more information and to register, click here


Noel Cressie named a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales (FRSN)

Distinguished Prof Noel Cressie has been recently named a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales (FRSN). Her Excellency, The Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales, a Patron of The Royal Society of New South Wales announced Prof Cressie’s election on 9 December 2020. The Royal Society of New South Wales recognises the substantial contribution made by NSW leaders in their fields in science, art, literature, and philosophy.

Noel Cressie is a statistical scientist who develops world-leading statistical methodology for analysing spatial and spatio-temporal data and for its application to the environmental sciences.Distinguished Prof Cressie is Director of UOW’s Centre for Environmental Informatics in the National Institute for Applied Statistics Research Australia (NIASRA) at the University of Wollongong, Australia.

Congratulations , Noel!

Previously mentioned ....

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.

Previously advertised

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

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

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.


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.

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

02 6251 3647 |