3 February 2022

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

Every morning, while enjoying my first cup of tea of the day, I watch ABC News Breakfast to find out what has been happening in the world. These days I get bored very quickly, watching yet another press conference by a state premier, or reading the latest COVID-19 tally at the bottom of the TV screen. Only two years ago my heart would start to beat faster seeing the daily COVID-19 infection numbers climb from three digits to four digits. These days I barely blink when I hear that another thirty people have lost their lives in a particular state due to the pandemic. It’s just another number. That is terrible, but is there a way around that?

Yes, there is. This week I came across an article “The story versus the statistic” by Kate Pickett, Deputy Director of the Centre for Future Health and Associate Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity at the University of York, addressing this very issue. In the article published in “International Politics and Society”, the author writes: “Behind each number there is a story. Social scientists need to learn how to tell these better if they want to catch the attention of the public.”

She tells the story of how she and her team reported on the impact of COVID-19 on disadvantaged children in the north of England. While millions of children were seriously affected by the pandemic, the week the report was published the media focused on two entirely different stories about just two children - victims of terrible domestic abuse.

Kate concludes that scientists must link their statistics to compelling stories and “make them come alive for readers and consumers of news.” I am sure you can all relate. You can read the full article here.

As for me, I will make more of an effort to simply start looking beyond the numbers.

Kind regards

Marie-Louise Rankin
SSA Executive Officer

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Thirty years on, Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics remain shared foundation of an informed society 

2022 marks 30 years since the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics, now a General Assembly-endorsed global standard, were first developed and adopted at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Created by the Conference of European Statisticians, UNECE’s highest decision-making body made up of the national chief statisticians of member countries, these principles were devised at a time of immense change and upheaval across the region. As centrally-planned economies transitioned to market economies in many member States, statisticians realized more than ever that they needed a shared framework to define the principles that guide what they do. Such a framework helps to secure the trust and credibility upon which effective statistics depend. There are many differences across countries in how their statistical production is organized, what data they gather, what needs they fulfil, yet these central principles are universal.

The principles underlie everything that the producers of official statistics do: from the methods for collecting, processing and storing data to the ways that statistical offices disseminate statistics and communicate with those who use them. The principles ensure independence from political influence and the right and duty to publicly correct misuse or misinterpretation of statistics. They safeguard the trustworthiness of official statistics, enabling them to play a unique role as a public good that underpins sustainable development and democracy.

Read the UNECE's full media release here

AI will push new boundaries in the spatial and statistical sector

In its Leaders Forum, “Spatial Source” asks experts to look ahead into 2022. Recently they spoke with SSA member Gemma Van Halderen (ABS) and Alison Rose (Geoscience Australia).
“Spatial Source” is Australia and New Zealand’s first website covering the geospatial, surveying, GIS and mapping communities.

Gemma Van Halderen leads the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Population, Labour and Location Insights Division. A statistician, she has represented Australia at the UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management. Alison Rose is the Chief of Geoscience Australia’s (GA) Place, Space and Communities Division. Previously, she held senior executive positions within the private and public sectors.

Asked which technologies will revolutionise the surveying, space or spatial sectors in 2022, Alison replied that she thought AI will push new boundaries in the spatial and statistical sector. Gemma added that Australia was well placed to be able to compete with the rest of the world. She said: “Our willingness to innovate makes us recognised leaders in the adoption and application of new geospatial and statistical data technologies and in the development of new standards and methods. This is particularly apparent in the adoption of new positioning and Earth observation technology in agriculture and resources.”

You can read the full interview here

Scientific Programming Committee members needed  for the 2023 Australian Statistical Conference

The Scientific Programming Committee for the 2023 Australian Statistical Conference, co-Chaired by Dr Nicole White (QUT) and Dr Karen Lamb (University of Melbourne), is seeking new members to help plan the program for the conference taking place in December 2023. The conference theme is ‘Statisticians in society’, focussing on the key role statisticians play in communication across diverse areas that are key to our society. 

Interested? Please email Nicole White ( by 25th February to tell us a little more about yourself, including brief details of i) the statistical section you align most with (e.g., biostatistics, environmental, official), ii) employment sector (e.g., academic, industry, government), iii) how long you have been working as a statistician, iv) what prior experience you have in conference or event organisation, and v) what you will bring to the committee. Please note that no prior experience in conference organisation is required. We would love to hear from people keen to get more involved in the SSA and strongly encourage people who may not have participated in SSA activities before to reach out (including early career statisticians). We look forward to hearing from you!

Ministerial interference in 2021 Australian Research Council Discovery Grants

Jointly with related societies, the SSA recently sent an open letter to the Education Minister regarding the use of the National Interest Test to block research proposals recommended for funding by the Australian Research Council. The view of these societies is that such veto powers severely erode public trust in the ARC process. You can read the open letter here.

PM’s Prizes for Science

The PM’s Prizes for Science nominations close soon - on 10 February. Diversity and representation matter. Please take time to nominate brilliant scientists of all backgrounds for these prestigious awards - and especially Indigenous scientists, women and people of colour. 

Find out more


Gender Equality in Mathematics, 17 Feb 2022, 2:00 AM (AEDT), online

For you late nighters,

The Standing Committee for Gender Equality in Science (SCGES) is hosting a series of webinars, the first one is Gender Equality in Mathematics.

In this Webinar, representatives of the International Mathematical Union (IMU) and the International Council of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM) present

  • Results of the Gender Gap in Science project about mathematics and applied mathematics
  • 50 years of activities of the AWM and its efforts and success to reduce the gender gap

The event will be held online on 16 February 2022 from 4 to 6 PM CET (17 Feb 2022, 2:00 AM (AEDT)).

For more information or to register please click: here

United Nations Statistical Commission 2022: Side Event "Ethics, trust, governance and use of data: Enhancing Official Statistics Capacity to address these issues"

Organizer: International Association for Official Statistics
Tuesday, February 8, 2022, online
Time: 9:00 - 10:00 AM (New York time) - 1 AM AEDT

Find out more

IWSM 2022 International Workshop on Statistical Modelling- 18 Jul 2022 (WEDT) – 22 Jul 2022 (WEDT) in Trieste-Italy

IWSM is one of the major activities of the Statistical Modelling Society, founded with the purpose of promoting and encouraging statistical modelling in its widest sense. The workshop aims to involve both academic and professional statisticians and data analysts with a particular focus on real data problems which involve an element of novel statistical modelling, or novel model application.

The atmosphere of the workshop is friendly and supportive, with no parallel sessions, with the aim of stimulating the exchange of ideas and experiences related to statistical modelling.

Papers focusing on applications with important substantive implications as well as methodological issues are welcome, including new developments in Data Science. Submissions by students and young researchers are particularly encouraged.

Note: this Conference is going to be in person, so in case of the persistence of Covid-19 Pandemic the Conference will not be held online.

Details are available here

Science Meets Parliament Scholarships 

A message from Science & Technology Australia:

"Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, Science & Technology Australia is now offering ten full scholarships to Science meets Parliament 2022.

In addition to our First Nations, Pride, technology, and regional scholarships, we are delighted to add two new scholarships - a Disability Scholarship, and a Neurodivergent Scholarship.

These two new scholarships have been provided thanks to the outstanding support of UNSW - who are proud champions of diversity.(...)

We’ve extended the deadline for applications to Wednesday 9 February

Apply now

Previously advertised

SSA NHMRC Investigator Grant Fellowship Top-Up Awards

Are you applying for an NHMRC Investigator Grant at Emerging Leadership Level 1 or 2 this year? To help our early-career members in this highly competitive scheme, we are awarding up to five SSA Fellowship Top-Up Awards, worth $3000 each, to support their applications. A panel of senior members and recent fellowship winners will select up to five winners. Please see the website here for details and an application form.

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

Research Associate (Evidence Integration)

University of Sydney, NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre

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Professor in risk management, financial mathematics, financial statistics or mathematical statistics

University of Leuven (KU Leuven)

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Associate Research Fellow

The University of Wollongong

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Associate Research Fellow

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Research Project Officer/Genomic Data Analyst - Cotton Biotechnology

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)

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Biostatistician (Postdoctoral Research Officer)

Murdoch Children's Research Institute

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