30 September 2021

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

For many of us, life is not easy at the moment and there are lots of things we can legitimately feel grumpy about. This is all the more reason to be grateful for the things that actually work well in our lives. One of them is our federal election system (though extending it to a four-year cycle might make it even better). Living in Australia we may not like what our politicians are up to all the time but imagine living in a country where on election day your vote for a political party means absolutely nothing. A place where your vote does not count because those in power, desperately holding on to that power, have no regard for the will of the people.

According to an analysis by independent statisticians this is what happened at Russia’s State Duma elections almost two weeks ago. Analysts claimed that half of the pro-Kremlin votes were false, commenting that in reality support for the ruling party lay at less than 30%, while the official results claimed it to be around 50%.

Ninety-seven thousand  polling stations were analysed, allowing statisticians to look for anomalies that could mean falsification. Alexei Kouprianov, a biologist and big data analyst, commented on Facebook: “The analysis shows that the level of falsification in 2021 was enormous.” 

According to the opposition party, the election was one of Russia’s most fraudulent in recent history. If you are interested, you can read more about the elections here.

In Australia we may not always agree with the outcome of an election, but at least we can be sure that the results were come by honestly and democratically.

Marie-Louise Rankin
SSA Executive Officer

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SSA SA Branch: Statistics Careers Event

The SA branch of the SSA held its Statistics Careers Event on 8 September, 2021. The event was an opportunity for current students and recent graduates to learn about the sorts of roles that statisticians in South Australia are currently working in. A variety of statisticians gave presentations on the places they work, the skills they have developed in their roles, and upcoming opportunities for graduates.

Read Annie Conway's full article about the event here

Homeward Bound Leadership Program For Women - Applications Now Open

If you would like to be one of 100 women in STEMM on the next Homeward Bound voyage you should apply by 14 October. The visionary leadership program runs for one year and culminates in a voyage to Antarctica.

#TeamHB7 will welcome 100 women from around the world to this unique leadership initiative as they build towards their vision of a global collaboration of 10,000 women with a background in STEMM.

Applications for the seventh Homeward Bound leadership program opened on 8 September 2021 and close on 14 October 2021, with the virtual program being delivered from April 2022 to March 2023.

The program will be delivered via monthly video conference calls.

Find out more

Statistical Modelling Reveals the Number of Serial Killers That Were Never Caught During The 20th Century in the US

Do you ever lie awake at night, wondering how many serial killers may have gone uncaught and how many victims these killers must have on their conscience?

Scientists Mikhail Simkin and Vwani Roychowdhury of the University of California, Los Angeles, recently tackled these questions, analysing available data on serial killers in the US. They constructed a simple mathematical model that simulates the behavior of these killers. Working with all the available data from the 20th century, the scientists came up with the numbers.

See their calculations here.

Biostatisticians unite!

The SSA recently provided input into the update of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations. This classification is used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to monitor the activity of the Australian workforce and labour market. One of the changes that the SSA provided advice on was the inclusion of “Biostatistician” as a specialisation of “Statistician”. You can find more information about the update here. Biostatistician was one of the emerging occupations recently identified by the National Skills Commission. Australia is well-served by biostatistical training programs, including the Biostatistics Collaboration of Australia’s online Masters program (the winner of the SSA’s 2019 President’s Award), and has several outstanding biostatistical research groups. With the inclusion of Biostatistician in the Classification of Occupations, Australian Biostatisticians can now stand up and be counted!

Jessica Kasza
SSA President

2021 Census website closing this week – last chance to complete the Census

The 2021 Census website, including the online form, and customer service channels will close on Friday 1 October marking a significant milestone in the Census data collection process for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Australian Statistician, Dr David Gruen said, “The website and online form have been available since 28 July but will soon close - now is your last opportunity to submit your Census form. “Households that haven’t completed the Census need to do so this week. Online forms can be submitted until Friday 1 October at 3:00pm AEST. If you don’t have your Census letter, you can go online and complete today. Select the ‘Get a Census Number’ option.”

As of Tuesday 28 September, more than 10 million households have completed the 2021 Census.

Read the full media release

The Australian Science Innovations Curious Minds program needs Curious Minds STEM Coaches to help empower girls to excel in STEM.

What is Curious Minds? Curious Minds is a hands-on extension and mentoring program to ignite girls’ passion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It’s a six-month program that combines two residential camps and a STEM coaching (mentoring) program.

Curious Minds is aimed at highly capable girls in Years 9 and 10 who have an interest in STEM learning areas. Participants will make new friends, be exposed to outstanding role models, practise new skills, and deepen their understanding of what their future may hold in the fields of science, engineering, technology and maths.

In a fun and supportive environment, the participants will grow in confidence and ability, whilst expanding their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and their scientific networks.

Find out more

Python versus R - What’s your preference?

You may prefer R over Python, but the head of data science at a leading NY bank explains that if you want to work in data science or machine learning in an investment bank, you may need brush up on your Python skills. "Python is preferred to R in banks for a number of reasons," he says. "There's greater availability of machine learning packages like sklearn in Python; it's better for generic programming tasks and is more easily productionised; plus Python's better for data cleaning (like Perl used to be) and for text analysis."  

Not convinced? Read the full article on the efinancial careers website here.

The SSA Vic Branch’s 2021 Belz Lecture will be presented online by Professor Andrew Forbes on

Tuesday, 12 October 2021, 6pm AEDT.

Andrew will speak about

Tales of clinical trials, tribulations, twists and turns

In this era of COVID-19 we constantly hear about case numbers of people infected, vaccines and epidemic modelling, and, particularly early in the epidemic, randomised clinical trials of treatments for COVID-19-infected patients. In my experience, the general public’s perception of clinical trials is that they are limited to evaluation of new drugs or treatments for particular conditions. Arguably, among some statisticians (including an earlier version of myself), there may be a perception that the statistical issues and analyses of randomised trials are formulaic and rather routine, due to the reliance on the virtues of randomisation. However, this is certainly not the case and there is a fascinating world of randomised trials both inside and outside of drug development. In this talk I’ll focus primarily on trials outside of drug development and discuss my experience with a diverse array of such trials and some unanticipated twists and turns that needed addressing from a statistical or practical perspective.

Find out more and register here

JOS Special issue on Population Statistics

The online edition of the Journal of Official Statistics for the September quarter has appeared. It is a special issue devoted to population statistics, comprising 12 papers around three themes: estimation; census data quality;and sampling methods: and including an Australian paper on capture recapture methods for human population estimation (Balfour et al, ).

From the preface:" reliable population statistics are indispensable for many crucial areas of public policy and panning worldwide. The world these statistics measure is changing rapidly, with population processes gaining pace and acquiring new forms, such as increasingly fluid mobility and migration...The role of official population statistics in addressing these fundamental. [while] the uptake of methods in official statistics remains limited. " 

The editors reflect on promising pathways, citing Zhang et al's work on subnational Bayesian spatio-temporal mixed effects models; the Italian permanent population census - combining administrative sources and coverage surveys; standardised measures of bias in small area estimation; and combining survey and census in contexts where administrative records may be incomplete. They see the key gap is the disparity between statistical systems, and a move away from standardised censuses to more country specific digital traces, noting the absence of coordination is limiting the usefulness of global measures such as the SDGs. In their mind, dedicated solutions are needed to help transform official statistics globally: this must address a conceptual shift - what is a population? who are migrants? what is the defining characteristic of residence? space time frameworks to accommodate the finer grained resolutions; how to address comparability.

See All contributions are accessible; the Preface in particular - - is recommended.

SSA Peer-Review Seminar and Panel Discussion-25 Oct 2021,
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM (AEDT), Online

Are you curious about the peer-review process used by academic journals? Have you been asked to review a paper for a journal but not sure where to start? Do you want to improve your own academic writing and chance of getting published?

In this seminar, Dr Myra McGuinness will provide a general overview of the peer-review process. This will be followed by a panel discussion on reviewing statistical methodology papers with Professor Kate Lee, Professor Andrew Forbes and Professor Alan Welsh. This session is targeted at students and early-career statisticians, but we welcome anyone with questions about peer review to join.

It is free for members but you do need to register.

Register here

Data Visualisation with R

SSA is pleased to announce this workshop, held on  

6 Dec 2021, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, online

presented by Professor Di Cook and Dr Emi Tanaka.

Data visualisation is a key statistical tool for effective communication and to understand aspects of data and models. The statistical language R is used widely for data analysis and visualization, e.g. the BBC Visual and Data Journalism team uses ggplot2 R-package to create production-ready charts. This workshop will teach you how to create production-ready graphics using the grammar of graphics implemented in ggplot2 R-package. In addition, the workshop will teach you how to construct more complex plots, including maps, and discuss inference for statistical graphics to understand if what we see in a plot is really there. The workshop will be hands-on with plenty of practical examples.

For more information and to register click here.

Check out current job vacancies in SSA's Career Centre here

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer - School of Mathematical Sciences

The University of Adelaide

(Level B, Lecturer) $100,933 to $119,391 or (Level ...

Associate Professor/Professor in Mathematical Sciences

The University of Adelaide

(Level D/E) $147,685 to $189,518 per annum plus ...

Post-Doctoral Fellow

University of Sydney

Undertake research into tuberculosis epidemiology ...

Biostatistician Senior Research Fellow

Austin Health

Biostatistician (Research) Fixed term Part ...


University of Sydney

Senior Biostatistician required to provide statistical ...

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