21 October 2021

Dear {Contact_First_Name},

For almost two years now we have been navigating a new world, one impacted by a pandemic dictating a different way of life. Overall, I feel like I have coped well with these changes. What made me despair at times were not the restrictions or limitations to life as I knew it, nor was it a fear of getting sick. It was the insight into a certain cohort of people known as ‘trolls” that I could have done without. Trolls are people who leave intentionally provocative or offensive messages on the internet to get attention, cause trouble or upset someone. Before the pandemic I knew, of course, that it takes all kinds of people to make the world go round, and some are more likeable than others. It seems though that COVID-19 has brought out the worst in many of our fellow humans.

A recent survey by the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) revealed that around one in five Australian scientists polled experienced death threats and/or threats of physical violence after speaking to the media about COVID-19. Thirty-one of the fifty scientists surveyed reported some level of trolling after appearing in the media to talk about COVID-19.

Around forty per cent of the Australian scientists who responded to the survey, and sixty per cent of international scientists said that trolling and personal attacks have impacted their willingness to speak to the media in the future. Some reported that the abuse caused issues for their mental health. You can read more about the shocking study here.

“All scientists should be free to go about their work, share their expertise and promote their research in appropriate fora without fear of intimidation or violence from individuals, groups or governments.”, Professor John Shine, President of the Australian Academy of Science, commented on the survey.

Hear, hear. Where would we be today without the tireless efforts and wonderful expertise of the scientists who are doing their utmost to keep us safe? I can’t even imagine. 

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer

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Sieves Meet Bootstraps a the NSW Branch September Meeting

by Matt Wand

Sieves help us cook pasta and rice, whilst bootstraps come in handy when donning a pair of boots. The September 2021 seminar to the New South Wales branch had nothing to do with cooking or dressing. However, statistics has borrowed these terms quite heavily and Professor Han Lin Shang of Macquarie University's Department of Actuarial Studies and Business Analytics explained how statistical sieves and statistical bootstraps aid the analysis of functional time series data.

Find out how

Congratulations to our SSA Fellowship Funding Award Recipients!

The SSA extends our congratulations to our latest SSA Fellowship Funding Award Recipients:

  • Clara Grazian, UNSW
  • David Gunawan, University of Wollongong
  • Lauren Kennedy, Monash
  • Houying Zhu, Macquarie University
  • Tao Zou, ANU

These early career statistical researchers are currently hard at work on their ARC DECRA Fellowship applications. Those whose DECRA applications are successful will receive $3000 to complement their fellowship activities.

We wish them, and all of our members applying for DECRAs and Future Fellowships, all the best in the preparation of their applications. A round to support our members applying for NHMRC Investigator Grants (at the Emerging Leadership level) will be opened early in 2022.

Science & Technology Australia -Media Release – 11 October 2021

Under Severe Strain: A Stark Snapshot Of Scientists

Widespread job insecurity, a spike in workloads and fatigue, and devastating job losses are eroding the morale of Australia’s science workforce at a time when we need science at its strongest, new research has found. The annual Professional Scientists Employment and Remuneration Report by Science & Technology Australia and Professional Scientists Australia reveals the mounting toll on scientists of the pandemic and longer-term chronic job insecurity.

This year’s survey lays bare a steep drop in morale amid growing exhaustion, mounting workloads and job insecurity from short-term work contracts and the high stakes lottery of science careers relying on competitive grants.

Read the full media release here

News from the Official Statistics Section

The following notice by the IAOS President has been circulated among the official statistics community.

The alert has been endorsed by past-SSA president and Australian Statistician Dennis Trewin, and past New Zealand Statistician and former head of ONS UK Len Cook, who can provide more information.

Dear IAOS Members,

On 11 October 2021, the ISI and IAOS have sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Fiji calling on him to act urgently to provide vindication of its actions to rebuild trust in Fiji statistics. This follows from the decision of the Fiji government to arbitrarily terminate the employment of the Government Statistician of Fiji, Mr Kemueli Naiqama, on 15 September 2021. The ISI and IAOS are concerned that the government's action is a breach of the UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics and would in many countries be seen as unconstitutional.  It is the Government Statistician who guarantees to those outside the country that their trust in official statistics is well founded.

The letter sent to the Prime Minister of Fiji can be viewed here.

The following ISI/IAOS representatives can be contacted for more


Len Cook:

Dennis Trewin: Kind regards, Misha Belkindas IAOS President

Covid surveys - NZ leads the way

Emeritus Professor Stephen Haslett and Professor Richard Arnold have published an informative article, How a random sampling regime could help detect COVID and highlight infection hotspots  (The Conversation, 15 October 2021) on the value of random sample surveying as a superior method for controlling new COVID outbreaks.

It is both an excellent explainer on design based random sample surveying in a population context, and an important contribution to public statistics - in the context of the response to outbreaks of the Delta strain in New Zealand. Furthermore, their prescription on systematic testing seems to break ground in the context of strategies for 'living with covid'; with wide application.

Stephen Horn,

Chair, Official Statistics Section

Read the article here

Gender and sexual identity data to be included in the NZ 2023 Census

When the Australian Census was held in August this year, the Morrison Government made the conscious decision to not include questions on gender and sexual identity. In contrast, Stats NZ just announced that its 2023 Census will collect gender and sexual identity data.

In a media release published on 19 October 2021, social and population insights general manager Jason Attewell said: “People’s sense of their gender and sexual identity is really important to them and can impact on their lives and experiences. The census touches everyone and will provide a detailed picture of how people with diverse genders and sexual identities experience life in Aotearoa New Zealand. The data will also inform better decision making and provision of services for the Rainbow community.”

The 2023 Census will include other changes as well.

Read more here.

Guidelines for assessing the quality of administrative sources for use in censuses

Earlier this week the UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) published new guidelines for using modern data sources in censuses, hoping they will support countries in maintaining high quality data.

The use of administrative data for censuses continues to increase across the countries of the UNECE region and beyond.” The media release states. “Administrative sources are used in a wide variety of ways, from supporting operations in a traditional census all the way to fully register-based censuses. It is important that NSOs understand the strengths and limitations of administrative data for use in their censuses, to ensure that they make fully-informed decisions about the use of such data.

Read the full media release here.

Missed the Belz Lecture with Professor Andrew Forbes? Members of SSA can watch the recording here.

Canberra Branch Workshop: **Advanced** Data visualisation with R

presented via Zoom by Professor Di Cook and Dr Emi Tanaka

on 8 Dec 2021until 9 Dec 2021,

9:00 AM - 12:00 PM AEDT

This workshop will build upon the skills and experience acquired from the "Data Visualisation with R" workshop, which Emi and Di have run successfully several times across multiple SSA branches, as participants dive deeper into advanced programming with ggplot2 and extensions for interactive graphics, web apps, and so on.

Find out more and register here

SSA Workshop: Marie Kondo Your Writing

9 Nov 2021, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM AEDT, held via Zoom

This workshop teaches the craft of writing well. Glean expert tips on how to declutter writing – and become a stronger and more persuasive author. Participants will come away with a clear set of practical insights to apply straight away in their opinion pieces, research and public speaking. Writing with greater clarity and impact will help to lift attendee’s broader leadership presence and profile.

This workshop is delivered by Science & Technology Australia’s CEO Misha Schubert. In her past roles as a highly respected senior print and broadcast journalist and political editor, she worked for major Australian news outlets including The Sunday Age, The Age, The Australian, ABC TV and Sky News.

This free event is offered as a membership benefit for members of SSA. Places are limited. Please only register if your membership is current.

Find out more and register here

IAU-IAA Astrostats & Astroinfo seminar

This international online seminar is an initiative of the International Astrostatistics Association and the IAU Astroinformatics and Astrostatistics Commission. It focuses on statistical analysis and data mining of astronomical data.

The seminar is run on Zoom monthly on second Tuesdays alternating between Europe-America and Australasia-Europe time zone instances. Please check the exact time and time differences with your own timezone.

The next seminar will be presented on Tuesday 9 November 2021, 7pm AEDT by Professor Ilya Mandel (Monash University, Australia).

The Zoom meeting link can be obtained via Subscription.

AMSI BioInfoSummer 2021 hybrid conference
Adelaide | Melbourne | Perth | Sydney | Townsville

29 November – 2 December

Join with other advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students, researchers and professionals from the mathematics, statistics, data science, and medical sciences to develop your bioinformatics skills, nationals networks and employability!

Learn about the latest research and developments in High Performance Computing for bioinformatics, Computational Methods in Human Genomic Health, Metagenomics and Long reads from an exciting line up of national and international speakers. Participate online or from one of our local event hubs in Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Townsville.

For more information and to register click here

SSA Webinar: Strategies for managing our mental health & well-being during COVID times

25 Oct 2021, 5:00 PM AEDT, Location: online, Zoom

Presented by Desiree Dickerson, PhD.

We explore the many ways that our community are trying navigate their roles and their well-being during the various phases of this pandemic. We highlight the need to:

  • Give yourself permission (to be where you are and feel what you feel!)
  • Set a solid foundation,
  • How to manage our own expectations and the expectations of those around us,
  • Identify our red flags (our first signs of stress),
  • Learn how to de-escalate our thoughts, sensations, and emotions when we feel overwhelmed or stressed,
  • Navigate uncertainty and worry.

About the presenter

As a former postdoctoral researcher in the neurosciences and a clinical psychologist Desiree has worked at both ends of the spectrum - from (lab) bench to bedside. Her goal is to take the best of neuroscience, behavioural economics, and psychological practice and break it down into meaningful, practical tools to help academics to:

  • Achieve peak performance in highly challenging, high-stress environments.
  • Maintain their well-being whilst striving for excellence.
  • Dial down the toxic comparison to everyone else.
  • Lose the guilt that distracts us while we work and robs us of our ability to relax.
  • Learn to see their strengths and enjoy the highs and to stop amplifying the negatives.

This free event is offered as a membership benefit for members of SSA. Please only register if your membership is current.

Register here

2021 Statistical Science Lecture (SSL) with Scott L. Zeger

Saving Medical Dollars, Trillions at a Time: A Statistical Perspective

The School of Mathematics and Applied Statistics (SMAS) at the University of Wollongong is hosting the 2021 SSL, to be given by

Scott L. ZegerJohn C. Malone Professor of Biostatistics and Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA. 

11.00am AEDT on 3 November 2021, via Zoom.

About the lecture:

American Medicine wastes $1.2 trillion per year, 5% of GDP, and produces noncompetitive health outcomes. A substantial fraction of this waste is attributable to poor use of information in clinical decisions.  This talk addresses a statistical framework that is essential infrastructure to learn from past experience how to improve care for future patients at more affordable costs. We frame four core medical questions in statistical terms, then offer a Bayesian hierarchical modeling approach that integrates complex data with prior biomedical knowledge to address the questions.  This approach is starting to be implemented in academic health centers. We use two recent examples from autoimmune disease and Covid-19 clinics to illustrate the methods, identify current obstacles to success, and point out opportunities for data scientists to directly impact future healthcare decisions.

Register here

SSA Equity Membership Scholarships

The SSA’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Committee has established an Equity Membership Scholarship program to allow people for whom paying the full SSA membership fee would lead to financial hardship to become members of the SSA. Winners will receive one year of SSA membership and be invited to take part in the 2022 SSA Mentoring Program as a mentee. More details and the application form can be found here

Deadline: 8 November 2021.

SSA Canberra Meeting - Meet the winners of the 2021 Dennis Trewin Prize

26 Oct 2021, 5:45 PM - 6:45 PM (AEDT)

SSA Canberra invites you to its October branch meeting, which will feature the shared winners of the 2021 Dennis Trewin prize!

Speaker 1: Ali Shojaeipour, University of New England

Speaker 2: Xian Li, ANU

No RSVP is required for this meeting.

Please click here for more information and to receive the Zoom link

The Tjanpi Award for best Student paper in Environmental Statistics

The SSA Environmental Statistics section proudly announces a new annual student prize for best student paper in environmental statistics.  To be eligible a student must be:

  • An author of a paper that has been accepted in the previous 12 months, having made a substantial contribution to the work
  • A student at the end of semester 1 this year (June 30 2021)
  • A current member of the SSA and the Environmental Statistics Section

The winner will receive $500 and will be asked to present in an invited session at the next annual stats conference (in 2023).

Deadline: 4 November, 5pm AEDT.

Find out more and apply here

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?

Find out more and register here

SSA WA Frank Hansford-Miller Fellowship: Research in engineering statistics: Current trends and future challenges

The WA Branch of the Statistical Society of Australia pleased to announce that the Frank Hansford-Miller Fellow for 2021 is Dr Manuel Herrera of the University of Cambridge. Due to travel restrictions, Dr Herrera will deliver his lecture via livestream from the UK.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021, 6:00PM AWST

Find out more and 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.

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.

SSA Career Centre

Navigating through an intensely competitive job market is intimidating, especially when you can't find anything to set you apart from thousands of job seekers in the industry. SSA's career centre is an online career destination that offers a wealth of resources to help you stand out from the competition.

SSA's career centre lets you access relevant career content to assist with career development. Research the industry, get networking tips, and brush up on your interview skills. Set up Job Alerts to be the first to know when a job matching your criteria is posted. Not sure if your resume or CV makes the cut? Request a review from the experts, to help list your strengths and weaknesses.

Take the first step to land your next job today!

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

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