15 April 2021


Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

One year ago, the SSA made the decision to postpone our 2020 conference, joint with the New Zealand Statistical Association, to July 2021. Reflecting back on 2020, it’s clear that we made the right decision, but at the time we had no idea whether we were being overly cautious. And now ANZSC2021 is only 80 days away: July 5-9!

I’m really looking forward to hearing from statisticians all around Australia and New Zealand and celebrating our work: this is something that I really missed in 2020. Although we won’t be gathering in person, I’m still looking forward to connecting with many of our members during the conference. You can find more info and register here .

Something else I’m excited about is my new SSA t-shirt, designed by Ben Harrap, one of our early career members. These shirts really are a celebration of Australian statistics! 

Jessica Kasza
SSA President

Read newsletter in your browser

University of Newcastle's financial claims 'blatantly wrong'

As SSA President, Jessica Kasza wrote in the newsletter last week, many universities in Australia are proposing cuts, or have already cut, statistics jobs. Downsizing or restructuring seem to be current buzzwords in the university sector, and the changes affect not just statistical departments at universities, but every area where a penny can be squeezed out of.  In his article “University of Newcastle's financial claims 'blatantly wrong' “ (Newcastle Herald, 10 April 2021), Dan Conway describes the University of Newcastle as “being on its knees”, as senior management is deep into a change that affects the current staff, students, future students, and the community at large.

He writes: “It is sad, but successive managements seem to have forgotten the very features that made the university and its staff valuable: professionalism, scholarship, considered work, stability, passion for education ,research, creativity and diversity. Instead, all this has been traded away for the empty rhetoric of marketing and the market. Worse, rather than bringing staff along and developing them in preparation for a new direction, management seek to dismiss them at will and then look to replace them with less experienced, cheaper staff - all at the expense of students, the community, and the value a university should be bringing to society.”

Read the full article here

SSA Canberra "rego grants" for upcoming ANZSC and ECSSC Conferences!

SSA Canberra is inviting student statisticians and data scientists who are student members or join as student members of SSA Canberra branch, and are planning to either:

+ Attend and present a talk or poster at the Australia and New Zealand Statistical Conference on 5-9 July online (ANZSC 2021), or
+ Attend and present a talk or poster at the Early Career and Student Statisticians Conference on 26 July to 1 August 2021 online (ECSSC 2021)

to apply for financial support in the form of a "registration grant".

Application Details:
Please prepare the following documents and a submit a single PDF form containing:

i. A brief resume of up to 4 pages;

ii. A brief statement of which of the above three "grants" you are applying for. Please note you can only apply to be reimbursed for one of the above three grants;

iii. Your submitted talk/poster abstract for ANZSC2021/ECSSC2021;

iv. A short letter describing the anticipated benefits to you that will result from your attendance at the conference/workshop, and declaring any other financial support offered to you for this conference/workshop.

Please send these via email to by 5pm on 31st May 2021

Successful applications will be notified by email 30th June 2021. After receiving a confirmation of your acceptance of talk and your registration receipt/invoice, and after SSA Canberra has confirmed that you are a student member, then SSA Canberra will then look to reimburse your relevant registration/conference fees.

Successful applications should:

+ Acknowledge the financial support of SSA Canberra during their presentation;
+ Contribute a short piece about their experience to the SSA Stats Matters newsletter, to be sent to

2021 Dennis Trewin Prize - Call for nominations

SSA Canberra are calling for nominations for the 2021 Dennis Trewin prize! The prize, named after the former Australian Statistician Dennis Trewin, is awarded annually for outstanding postgraduate research in statistics or data science.

Eligibility criteria:

  • At least 12 months into a postgraduate research degree, or graduated from a postgraduate research degree in the last 36 months (at the time of application).
  • Undertaking/undertook the research degree from a university with a campus within the ACT or regional areas of NSW outside Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong.

If you have innovative research from your research degree that is of interest to statisticians and/or data scientists, we strongly encourage you to apply!

Please submit an abstract of your research work to by Friday 14th May. You will also need to provide proof of enrolment at the university that the research was undertaken in.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to record a 15-20 minute video on their research, and will receive a one-year complimentary SSA student membership following this. A selection committee will then decide the winner of the Dennis Trewin prize, who will additionally receive a $1,000 cash prize and an invitation to present their research as part of SSA Canberra's branch meeting in October. Whilst most recent branch meetings have been held virtually, there is a possibility that this branch meeting will be held physically, in which case the cost of dinner will be covered, as well as travel and one night’s accommodation if required.

If you have any further questions regarding the nature/format/scope of the prize, please contact

NSW Branch April Meeting: SSA NSW & R-Ladies Sydney - Joint Event by Dr Gordana Popovic

27th April 2021,The University of Sydney from 6pm AEST.

Carrots are good for vision, models are good for visualising discrete data

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.

This is a face-to-face meeting but if you would like to attend virtually please register in advance for this lecture here, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

SSA Workshop: Convex Optimization for Statistical and Machine Learning with CVXR

24 Jul 2021, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM AEST via Zoom 

This is an ECSSC 2021 satellite workshop.

We will begin with a gentle introduction to convex optimization using examples from ordinary least squares and penalized regression. This will be followed by a high-level description of CVXR, how it differs from other packages, and a discussion of the domain specific language that CVXR implements. We will show how CVXR works on different classes of problems, such as linear programs, quadratic programs, and semidefinite programs, and demonstrate its usage with a variety of examples. Finally, we will have a segment for potential developers in which we go over the nuts and bolts of adding new functions to CVXR’s library.

Prerequisites:  A working knowledge of statistics and linear algebra, and basic experience with a scripting language like R. We also invite attendees to bring problems of interest, which we will do our best to formulate and solve in CVXR.

For more information or to register click here.

Network Data Repository - The First Interactive Network Data Repository

  • The first interactive network repository with visual analytic tools
  • The largest network data repository with thousands of network data sets
  • Interactive network visualization and mining
  • Download thousands of real-world network datasets: from biological to social networks 

The first interactive data and network data repository with real-time visual analytics. Network repository is not only the first interactive repository, but also the largest network repository with thousands of donations in 30+ domains (from biological to social network data). This large comprehensive collection of network graph data is useful for making significant research findings as well as benchmark network data sets for a wide variety of applications and domains (e.g., network science, bioinformatics, machine learning, data mining, physics, and social science) and includes relational, attributed, heterogeneous, streaming, spatial, and time series network data as well as non-relational machine learning data. All graph data sets are easily downloaded into a standard consistent format. We also have built a multi-level interactive graph analytics engine that allows users to visualize the structure of the network data as well as macro-level graph data statistics as well as important micro-level network properties of the nodes and edges.

Check out GraphVis: the interactive visual network mining and machine learning tool.

Find out more

Using R for Bayesian Spatial and Spatio-Temporal Health Modeling with Speaker Andrew B. Lawson (Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina)

1 Jun 2021, 9:00 AM AEST – 2 Jun 2021, 4:00 PM @ Online

Medical University of South Carolina is offering this workshop, it's sequence is designed for those who want to cover mapping methods, and the use of a variety of software and variants in application to small area health data.

The course will include theoretical input, but also practical elements and participants will be involved in hands-on in the use of R, BRugs(OpenBUGS), Nimble, CARBayes and INLA in disease mapping applications. Both human and veterinary examples will be covered in the course as well as simple space-time modelling.

There will be a course text for the workshop. A copy of this book is included in the fee for the course.

Early bird rate : US$500  until May 10th ; normal rate US$800 thereafter.

Click here to find out more and to register

Did you miss this event?

Deriving Insights from New Data Sources - Public Lecture part of AMSI Summer School 21

Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen, Queensland University of Technology, QUT Centre for Data Science and ACEMS, talks about deriving insights from new data sources. One of the major opportunities – and challenges – facing statisticians and data scientists is the diversity of new data sources. These data motivate an expansion of traditional approaches to statistical modelling and encourage new lines of analysis. In this presentation, I will discuss some of our adventures in analysing and integrating data derived from virtual reality, thermal imagery, satellites and crowdsourcing, primarily in the context of conservation.

The lecture was jointly facilitated by AMSI and The University of Adelaide.

Watch the recording here

Previously mentioned......

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.

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, worn by SSA President Jessica Kasza in the photograph at the top of this newsletter. 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.

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.

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 |