1 July 2021

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

This will be the last newsletter before we kickstart the Australian and New Zealand Statistical Conference (ANZSC2021). We finally got here and what a journey it has been!

A Facebook memory popped up in my thread last week, reminding me of the Gold Coast “Famil” I attended seven years ago. For those who don’t know, participating in Famils is an occasional perk that comes with the job of working for an association. Association representatives and event planners sometimes are invited for brief, whirlwind trips, where the best a region has to offer is showcased, such as accommodation, meeting and convention venues, food (ah…the food…), and much, much more.

Gold Coast Destinationsinvited me seven years ago and I immediately thought what a great conference destination it would be for SSA, especially during the winter months. The invitation paid off and from 2017 we started planning our ANZSC2020 to be held on the beautiful Gold Coast. Little did we know what lay ahead!

When COVID-19 struck in the beginning of 2020 decisions had to be made. None of us had a crystal ball. I think at that time we even contemplated pushing the conference back by just a few months. Surely it would all be over by November? To be on the safe side it was decided to postpone the conference by a year.
In November 2020, with the ongoing uncertainty posed by the pandemic, more decisions had to be made. Should the conference be held as a face-to-face event? Virtually? Could we hold it as a hybrid event… a bit of each? Again, no one knew what the right answer would be, but this week the conference organisers were validated in their decision to hold the event online. With over half of Australia’s population under lockdown restrictions of some sort, imagine the chaos if we had planned ANZSC2021 as an in-person event?

I commend the ANZSC2021 Local Organising Committee (LOC) and the Scientific Program Committee (SPC) for their fortitude, their incredible nerves and resilience. They took on a time-consuming volunteer job in 2017, never dreaming that in 2021 they would still be working on the same conference. I would guess that Mark Griffin, Chair of the LOC, has not slept through a full night in months, with so many questions surrounding ANZSC2021 buzzing through his mind. Berwin Turlach and Beatrix Jones, Co-Chairs of the SPC, had twice the amount of work, having had to work through the abstracts in 2020 and again this year. Yet they never showed any impatience with the many questions that came their way. When it was decided to hold the conference online, David Warton – in a way a victim of his own successful Statistical Consulting Network Meeting in November 2021 – was recruited to oversee the technical side of the conference. After the success of his own event, the ANZSC2021 organisers knew that they needed David on their team. What David has done to make our virtual event as interactive as possible is truly incredible! Our conference delegates have a most exciting week to look forward to.

A massive thank-you to everyone involved. I take my hat off to you. And by the way - it is not too late to register for ANZSC2021!

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer, SSA

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Social highlights of the upcoming ANZSC2021

Would I lie to you…statistically?

Thu 8 Jul 2021, 5:00pm - 7:00pm AEST

Hosted by Ian Gordon, with a panel of charismatic statisticians.

We invite you to share your statistical stories – truth or lie. An expert panel will be pitted against the online audience to pass judgement on the veracity of your claims.

Based on the popular BBC series "Would I lie to you", available on ABC iview.

What do we need from you?

Post a brief description of your statistical story (one or two lines) on our #would-i-lie-to-you channel in Slack at any time during the conference.  The live event will be held as a Zoom meeting hosted in this same channel, where authors of alleged stats war stories will have the chance to tell the panel and the audience some more, and to answer questions from the panel (you will be contacted in advance to be given a heads up that your story was selected).

This social event is brought to you by the Statistical Consulting Network. Everyone welcome!  Non-delegates can participate as spectators only. They will receive the link to all the fun next week. Non-delegates will need to register for the event here.


Meet you at the cafe... or the pub!

It would not be a proper conference without opportunities to connect with your fellow statisticians. ANZSC2021 is using Slack, offering a virtual café and even a pub where you can catch up with your colleagues after the conference talks…or even during the presentations, if you need a little break.

Check out the Slack workspace for ANZSC2021. Delegates would have received an email invitation to join and explore this area. Throughout the week, tours of the workspace were offered, with volunteers showing delegates around. It was a fun opportunity to meet some of the other delegates before the event, and for those of us new to Slack it helped to give us confidence to navigate this area of the conference. Bring on ANZSC2021!


Trivia Night – A trivial ANZC event

Wed 7 Jul 2021, 5:00pm - 7:00pm AEST

Come join your fellow ANZSC-ians and OZCOTS-ese to socialise, network, and most importantly take bragging rights for who is the trivia master!

We invite you all to join the conference trivia event to round out Day 3 of ANZSC, where you team up with fellow colleagues and friends new and old to test your knowledge in a couple of hours (+/- some unknown standard deviation) of non-so-random questions spanning all walks of general knowledge, including some mathematics and statistics puzzles of course!

Meet our ANZSC2021 Keynote Speakers


Professor Frauke Kreuter

Combining data from different sources for social statistics

Professor Frauke Kreuter is Director of the Joint Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland, USA; Professor of Statistics and Methodology at the University of Mannheim; and head of the Statistical Methods Research Department at the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) in Nürnberg, Germany.

Professor Kerrie Mengersen

(Not) Aggregating Data

Professor of Statistics, Science and Engineering Faculty, Queensland University of Technology. Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellow in the School of Mathematical Sciences at QUT and is Deputy Director of the ARC Centre for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers: Big Data, Big Models and New Insights (ACEMS). Her focus is on using and developing new statistical and computational methods that can help to solve complex problems in the real world. These problems are in the fields of environment, health and medicine and industry. 


Professor Renate Meyer

Bayesian Time Series Tools (not only) for Gravitational Wave Astronomy

Professor Meyer is an applied Bayesian statistician. After obtaining an MSc in Mathematics ( for which she was awarded the Springorum Denkmuenze) from the RWTH Aachen, Germany, Prof Meyer worked as a research scientist in the Department of Medical Statistics from 1988-1993 and did a PhD in Mathematical Statistics also at the RWTH Aachen. Prof Meyer then took up a lectureship in Statistics at the University of Auckland in 1994.

Professor Robert Gould

Data Education in pre-College. Promises and Challenges

Robert is a teaching professor and vice-chair of undergraduate studies in the Department of Statistics at UCLA.  He has been active in statistics education and data science education since 1994.   As lead principal investigator of the Mobilize project, he is the architect of the Mobilize Introduction to Data Science course, a year-long high school course implemented in 16 school districts. 


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Sponsored Keynote Speaker

Anders Holmberg, Chief Methodologist and General Manager, Methodology Division

What is significant about national statistical organisations?

Anders has a background as a survey methodologist, developing both theory and practice within data collection methodology, survey sampling theory and register based statistical methods.

Immediately prior to joining the ABS, Anders was the Chief Methodologist at Statistics Norway. He was also the Principal Statistician at Statistics New Zealand from 2014 to 2016, where he worked with traditional censuses and administrative data systems.

In 2012-13, Anders was responsible for the management of the Cambodian Socio-Economic Survey, as well as training staff throughout the statistical value chain. He enjoyed a 13 year career at Statistics Sweden (1999-2012), undertaking a variety of roles. Prior to this, he was a lecturer at Örebro University.

He has a PhD in statistics from Uppsala University with the thesis “Essays on Model Assisted Survey Planning”.

Griffith University – Menzies Health Institute of QLD Sponsored Keynote Speaker

Professor Robert Ware
Test-negative observational studies: testing assumptions about healthcare-seeking behaviour 

Professor Robert Ware is a biostatistician and clinical epidemiologist. Robert has worked as an academic biostatistician for more than 15-years and has extensive experience working with clinical colleagues on randomised trials and cohort studies. His research expertise centres on the design and analysis of longitudinal studies, with a methodological focus on developing statistical methods to deal with the impact attrition, missing data and non-compliance have on effect estimators. As a consequence of his research program and his collaborative work with clinicians, he has developed an extensive theoretical and practical knowledge of the design, conduct, and analysis of both observational and experimental studies. Appointed as the inaugural Professor of Biostatistics, Robert joined Griffith University in September 2016. Before joining Griffith University, Robert completed his PhD in Statistics at the University of Canterbury (NZ) in 2003, before being employed at The University of Queensland as a Post-Doctoral Fellow (2003-07) and Research-Focused Academic (2008-16). Robert’s applied interests include vaccine epidemiology and childhood infectious disease. Robert has co-authored more than 330 peer-reviewed articles, including publications in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the New England Journal of Medicine, and Lancet.

Moran Lecture – Australian Statistical Conference

The Moran Lecture was set up in 2016 and first held at ASC2016. It is held at each Australian Statistical Conference.

The 2021 Moran Lecture will be presented by Distinguished Professor Noel Cressie, University of Wollongong.

Moran Lecture

SUPE-ANOVA: Intercomparison of global geophysical models

Noel Cressie is Distinguished Professor at the University of Wollongong, Australia, and Director of its Centre for Environmental Informatics, a vibrant interdisciplinary research group with interactions and grants both in Australia and internationally in spatio-temporal statistics, satellite remote sensing, and broader fields of environmental science. He is also Adjunct Professor at the University of Missouri (Columbia, MO) and Affiliate of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, CA). Cressie received his BSc (Hons I) from the University of Western Australia and an MA and PhD in Statistics from Princeton University, USA. His past appointments have been at The Flinders University of South Australia, Iowa State University, and The Ohio State University. He is author and co-author of four books, the latest one, “Spatio-Temporal Statistics with R” by Wikle, Zammit-Mangion, and Cressie, was published in 2019 by Taylor and Francis ( Cressie is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society of New South Wales, and several other learned societies.

The Foreman Lecture is available to all members of SSA, even if they are not delegates of ANZSC2021. Please contact your branch for details.

Foreman Lecture –
Canberra Branch

The Foreman Lecture is held at the ASC or mid-year in the Canberra Branch in non-ASC years.

In 2021 the Foreman Lecture will be presented by Professor  Li-Chun Zhang.

Graph Sampling theory: A current overview

Li-Chun Zhang is Professor of Social Statistics at University of Southampton, Senior Researcher at Statistics Norway, and Professor of Official Statistics at University of Oslo. His research interests include finite population sampling design and coordination, finite graph sampling, sample survey estimation, non-response, measurement errors, small area estimation, index number calculations, editing and imputation, register-based statistics, statistical matching, record linkage. His involvement in research projects include the EU framework projects EURAREA, DACSEIS, RISQ and BLUE-ETS; the ESSnet projects Small Area Estimation, Data Integration and Quality of Multisource Statistics; the H2020-project InGRID-2; the ESRC-projects ADRCE, NCRM-SAE.

The complete ANZSC2021 program is available here.

Our Accreditation Committee needs you!

We are seeking expressions of interest from AStat accredited members wanting to join the Accreditation Committee. Get involved and help other members attain accreditation! Keep in mind that you would not be accredited yourself if it were not for the dedicated volunteers on SSA’s Accreditation Committee.

Committee tenure is usually for three years, but some committee members enjoy their time on the AC so much that they extend to six years! Meetings are held via Zoom every six weeks or so; sometimes just every other month. Accreditation applications are uploaded to Dropbox and the committee members are asked to read them prior to the meetings and then give their view on whether candidates meet SSA’s criteria for accreditation or not. In 2020 we received a total of 33 applications, many of them applications for reaccreditation which are usually very straightforward.

If you are interested, please contact me. If you would like to chat with someone on the committee before making a decision, please let me know and I will put you in touch with a committee member or the Chair.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Marie-Louise Rankin
SSA Executive Officer

Sydney Mathematical Research Institute - International Visitor Program

The SMRI International Visitor Program is now open again, for visitors travelling from New Zealand only.  This program funds researchers in the mathematical sciences to travel to Australia for research collaborations at Australian universities.  If you have existing or potential collaborators working in New Zealand, please encourage them to make use of this opportunity. 

Please direct any potential applicants to the SMRI website  for the full terms and conditions, and instructions on how to apply.  Any further questions about the scheme can be addressed to me at

At least initially, applications for this NZ-only IVP will be on a rolling basis as with our Domestic Visitor Program.  For Aus or NZ citizens or Aus permanent residents, the application deadline is 2-6 months before the start of the proposed visit; for other NZ residents, 4-6 months before the start of the proposed visit. 

Terms and conditions for the IVP will be updated when travel to Australia from other source countries becomes possible. 

Anthony Henderson
Executive Director, SMRI

Joint SSA Canberra Branch + Canberra Data Scientists Meeting

From supervised machine learning to causal heterogeneity modelling for personalised decision making 

27 Jul 2021, 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM AEST via Zoom

The SSA Canberra Branch invites you to its June branch meeting, which will be held jointly with Canberra Data Scientists, and presented Prof. Jiuyong Li, University of South Australia.

About the talk:

Causal heterogeneity modelling emerges as an effective approach for personalised decision making and is used in personalised marketing and personalised medicine. In this talk, We will differentiate causal heterogeneity modelling from supervised machine learning and show some research and applications we have done in using causal heterogeneity modelling for decision making. We will give some common practice recommendations for using causal heterogeneity modelling methods. 

ANZSC2021 Conference Hubs

While ANZSC2021 is being held virtually, some of our branches are offering opportunities for face-to-face gatherings (COVID-19 restrictions permitting). Remember to be COVID-safe. If you feel unwell on the day, please rethink your in-person attendance.

Check out the ANZSC2021 Hubs in your area:

Canberra Branch

Foreman Lecture

Tuesday, 6 July 5pm-6pm AEST

Available to SSA members, ABS staff, guests

The Foreman Lecture is being given by Professor Li-Chun Zhang on 'Graph Sampling theory: A current overview'. We will meet at the Knibbs Theatre, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Belconnen ACT to view the lecture, then will go to a nearby restaurant for dinner. SSA Canberra will subsidise the dinner but some payment from attendees will be expected.

Please contact Warren Muller  for further information.

SA Branch

ANZSC2021 Conference Dinner

Thursday, 8 July, time tba

Please email your RSVP to the organiser by 4 July 

Based on the numbers the organiser will email you the venue details and time.

NSW Branch - due to COVID-19 lockdown the NSW Branch face-to-face events have been cancelled.


Vic Branch

ANZSC Face-to-face Hub – SSA Vic

Monday, 5 July, Tuesday, 6 July and Wednesday(half day), 7 July 2021

University of Melbourne, Parkville

Available to ANZSC delegates

SSA Vic has secured spaces for group viewing of the Keynote sessions, and catered morning tea. In addition, on Monday and Tuesday (the full days), Hub attendees will be able to bring their devices to tune in to their selected parallel sessions, and network during catered afternoon tea. Presenters at the conference will have access to private spaces to deliver their presentations.

$5 per day

ANZSC Foreman Lecture & Conference Dinner 

Tuesday, 6 July 2021, 5pm

University of Melbourne, Parkville

Available to ANZSC delegates and SSA members

SSA Vic will be hosting a group viewing of the ANZSC Foreman Lecture, followed by a Conference Dinner, open to all ANZSC registrants and SSA members (including members not attending ANZSC).

$40 for full members, $30 for student members; free for lecture only (no dinner).

A Song of Wind & Fire: a statistical journey through an uncertain world

Dr Rachael Quill

Wednesday 14 July, 12pm-1pm AEST via Zoom

In this lecture, Dr Rachael Quill will explore how shedding light on the uncertainties of wind flow across the environment can support informed decision-making in bushfire management and renewable energy generation.

Extreme fire behaviours are being witnessed at an increasing rate across Australia and the world. Such behaviours were recorded in 2003 as fires rushed from the mountains into the suburbs of Canberra, destroying 500 homes and sadly claiming 4 lives. Nearly two decades of scientific research since then has pushed the boundaries of our understanding in fire dynamics, bushfire prediction and emergency management. In this lecture, we will explore how improving the understanding of uncertainties around fire behaviour enables more informed fire management through seeing a fuller picture of an event.

The principles of accounting for uncertainty translate into many different fields. In the second half of this lecture, we will explore this notion in relation to renewable energy. Integrating renewable and intermittent power into national electricity grids is a global challenge in the pursuit of lowering our carbon emissions. Enabling accurate and timely prediction of resources, such as wind, involves understanding its inherent variability then communicating and accounting for uncertainty in prediction. In a world where hard decisions must be made to address global challenges, we need to ensure those decisions are made knowing the fullest picture possible.

Register here

The Melbourne Centre for Data Science presents

A seat at the table: The key role of biostatistics and data science in the COVID-19 pandemic

Friday 2 July, 10am AEST, via Zoom

featuring Dr Jeffrey Morris.

The novel virus SARS-CoV-2 has produced a global pandemic, forcing doctors and policymakers to “fly blind,” trying to deal with a virus and disease they knew virtually nothing about. Sorting through the information in real time has been a daunting process—processing data, media reports, commentaries, and research articles. In the USA this is exacerbated by an ideologically divided society that has difficulty with mutual trust, or even agreement on common facts.  The skills underlying our statistical profession are central to this knowledge discovery process, filtering out biases, aggregating disparate data sources together, dealing with measurement error and missing data, identifying key insights while quantifying the uncertainty in these insights, and then communicating the results in an accessible balanced way.  As a result, we have had a central role to play in society to bring our perspective and expertise to bear on the pandemic to help ensure knowledge is efficiently discovered and put into practice. Unfortunately, our profession is often shy about asserting its perspective in broader societal ventures, perhaps not realising the central importance of our perspective and mindset.

Dr. Morris is a Professor and Director of the Division of Biostatistics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.  He is a Fellow of the Institute for Mathematical Statistics (IMS) and of the American Statistical Association (ASA), and has been recognized with numerous national honors, including the ASA’s Noether Young Scholar Award and Harvard University’s Myrto Leftkopoulou Distinguished Invited Lectureship. He has served as President of the East North American Region (ENAR) of the International Biometric Society and overall program chair for the Joint Statistical Meetings, and is also currently the editor of Biology, Medicine and Genomics for the IMS journal The Annals of Applied Statistics.

The Vic Branch of SSA is proud to present   

Julia for Statistics and Data Science -   Your first steps In statistics and integration with your current platform

8 Jul 2021– 9 Jul 2021 via Zoom

presented by Associate Professor Yoni Nazarathy from the School of Mathematics and Physics at The University of Queensland.

This two day workshop aims to enable R users and other data scientists to incrementally incorporate Julia in their workflow. After an introduction of Julia basics, the workshop focuses on the creation of a simple, yet computationally demanding simulation example. This Julia code is then incorporated in R and Python, illustrating how users may create new performant statistical software using Julia while maintaining existing code base in R or Python. With this exploration, participants will learn not just how to use Julia, but also how to integrate Julia into their day to day statistical analysis which may involve R or Python legacy code.

To learn more or to register, please click here.

ECSSC2021 Video Competition 

Submissions will open shortly for ECSSC2021 Video Competition. Working on any research? Put a video together and demonstrate your ability to concisely disseminate your research to a wider audience. Any student or early career statistician (within 5 years of graduation) in a statistics related field is welcome to enter the competition (sorry – previous winners are excluded). There is no entry fee!

For inspiration, please consider viewing previous submissions and winners. All submitted videos have been posted in the SSA ECSSN youtube channel of Statistical Society of Australia.

Scholarships available for attending ANZSC2021, ECSSC2021 and AMSI Winter School

Several branches of SSA are offering financial support to fund  participation at the Australian and New Zealand Statistical Conference 2021, the Early Career and Student Statisticians Conference and AMSI Winter School. The Canberra Branch has extended the application deadline until 28 June 2021 and is now offering reimbursements to successful applicants who are already registered for the conference.

Schemes and deadlines vary slightly between branches.

The SSA NSW Branch has just extended the application deadline of the ANZSC 2021 and ECSSC 2021 registration grants until 26th June, 2021. 

To find out what your branch is offering, please click on the appropriate blue box below.
QLD Branch
NSW Branch
VIC Branch
Canberra Branch
Canberra Branch

Early Career & Student Statisticians Conference 2021

Virtually from July 26 to August 1st

The conference is aimed at developing, maintaining and improving connections and support amongst Early Career and Students working in various scientific disciplines, including agriculture, economics, bioinformatics,artificial intelligence and machine learning, and environmental statistics.   

We have set aside a day (31 st July 2021) for our future budding statisticians! High school students, or teachers of high school and primary school students, are encouraged to join the conference.

Register here

We'd like to thank  our other generous sponsors:


The ECSSC is offering several courses leading up to the conference:

Convex Optimization for Statistical and Machine Learning with CVXR

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

Statistical Shape Analysis via Topological Data Analysis

25 Jul 2021, 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM AEST via Zoom

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 |