17 March 2022

Dear {Contact_First_Name},  

I hope you enjoy being a member of the Statistical Society of Australia, finding your membership beneficial. We currently have over 1,000 members (this figure does not include the ANZSTAT discussion forum subscribers). Some of these members prefer to stay quietly in the background, while others throw themselves right into things – often again and again, filling different roles over time.

Research has shown that members who engage with their association get more out the membership. They will meet new people – perhaps make friends for life. They get bragging rights, being able to add certain volunteer roles to their resume. They may make valuable connections, potentially advancing their career. They may even get to influence their association and where it is heading strategically.

They are rewarded with a sense of belonging.

At this time of year, as our branches hold their AGMs, some of the branch councils are looking for new council members. Perhaps there could be a role for you? Alternatively, maybe some of the roles advertised below appeal to you? One of them is even a paid position! I don’t think SSA has ever advertised this many positions in a single newsletter before.

Why not throw you hat in ring? Great things may be waiting for you.

Yours sincerely

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer

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Looking back with our Past Presidents:

Dennis Trewin, President 1987-1989

As one of the earliest surviving SSA Presidents, I thought I would use my reflections to highlight an important part of our history in which I was involved. This was the commencement of the SSA Newsletter in May 1977. I was an Inaugural Editor along with Richard Tweedie.   

We started the Newsletter with four issues per year and that remained the frequency for some time.  The production methods were also very different. We were using very basic word processing facilities at CSIRO offices in Yarralumla. The material we received was usually on handwritten manuscript (no email in those days) with much of the typing done by Richard or myself. Everything had to be tagged – new paragraphs, new pages, italics, etc. There was no on-screen ‘what you see is what you get facilities’ so there were frequent prints whilst we fine-tuned the layout.

All this had to be done in the evenings. We both had our day jobs but, more importantly, the CSIRO computing facility was only free in the evenings. We spent many long and often frustrating nights at Yarralumla but Richard’s sense of humour and many cups of coffee pulled us through.

The content of the Newsletter was not much different to the present. By volume, Branch notes were the main contribution – notices of forthcoming meetings and brief reports of past meetings. There were also many special articles – contributed, commissioned, or occasionally written by the Editors.  Other features included obituaries, citations for awards, notice of Australian and International Conferences, lists of international visitors so there was less reliance on word of mouth, and summaries of Central Council meetings. Each year we used to publish a list of SSA members with contact details. Attitudes to privacy were different then!

Chris Edwards, Bob Forrester and Doug Shaw were among the early Editors. There were many other subsequent editors – too many to list – but they all made very important contributions to the fabric of the SSA.

I was asked to make some reflections for the 100th edition back in 2002 and suggested it was time to move to a more dynamic News and Notes published though the web site. This is close to what we have now. It is a far superior service that enables our members to much more readily participate in the SSA’s activities.

From left to right: Eden Brinkley and Dennis Trewin

The SSA newsletter has a long history: this photo is reproduced from our 100th edition, released in August 2002. You can catch up on that edition and many more here.

A note from the SSA office:
The SSA office will be closed until Thursday, 24 March 2022, while the Executive Officer and the Event Coordinator attend a conference.

SSA is teaming up with the Random Sample…

…and needs you! The Random Sample is a podcast that shares stories all about the impact of statistics, data science, and maths, and the statisticians, data scientists and mathematicians behind the impact. The SSA is now teaming up with the Random Sample, and is looking for an enthusiastic person to drive the organisation of stats and data science-themed episodes.

No podcasting skills are required: all that is required is enthusiasm! This is an opportunity for you to upgrade your communications skills. You will be paid for your time (expected to be around 2 to 3 hours a week). To express your interest and for more information please get in touch with SSA’s President, Jess Kasza.

Want to get involved with your professional association?

The following  volunteering positions are currently available:

ANZJS "Social Media Editor" (Deadline 1 April 2022)

SSA Mentoring Program Committee Member

Chair, Student and Early Career Statistician Network Committee

The Random Sample - Paid position - see above

SSA Events

Please join us for this Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Section Event: 

COVID-19: Unexpected Opportunities and Lessons for Australia's Biostatistics, Bioinformatics and Epidemiological Community

30 Mar 2022, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM (AEDT), held online

Several Australian scientists unexpectedly shot to prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic. Biostatistical concepts and models were discussed on breakfast television and news radio, presenting a significant communication challenge. At the same time, a number of our community actively and publicly critiqued high-profile studies of COVID-19, generating substantial (and at times very personal) criticism. 

In this lunchtime webinar we will hear from Adrian Esterman and Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz about their whirlwind journeys from 'quiet' academia to high-profile sci-comm personality, with a focus on the lessons biostatisticians and bioinformaticians can take from these experiences. Please join us!

To register click here.

NSW Branch 2022 AGM, followed by the Lancaster Lecture

23 Mar 2022, from 5:30pm AEDT, held at the University of Sydney

Location: F10A.01.101.Law Building Annex. Law Annex Lecture Theatre 101

5:30pm - 6:00pm: Refreshments
6:00pm - 6:30pm: AGM
6:30pm - 7:30pm: Lancaster Lecture

2022 Lancaster Lecture: A mixing path from theory to applications

Dr. Clara Grazian, 
USyd, Sydney

Clustering is an important task in many areas of knowledge: medicine and epidemiology, genomics, environmental science, economics, visual sciences, among others. Methodologies to perform inference on the number of clusters have often been proved to be inconsistent and introducing a dependence structure among the clusters implies additional difficulties in the estimation process. In a Bayesian setting, clustering in the situation where the number of clusters is unknown is often performed by using Dirichlet process priors or finite mixture models. However, the posterior distributions on the number of groups have been recently proved to be inconsistent. This lecture aims at reviewing the Bayesian approaches available to perform via mixture models and give some new point of view.

If you would like to attend virtually please register in advance here

For details please follow the link

Vic Branch AGM and Branch Talk

30 March 2022, The University of Melbourne, Tea Room, School of Mathematics and Statistics, Peter Hall Building (160), 813 Swanston St, Parkville or online

5:30pm- 6:00pm (AEDT) - AGM
6:00 -7:00PM (AEDT) – Joint presentation, Dr Damjan Vukcevic and Prof Philip Stark.

SSA Welcome Event- 31 Mar 2022, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM (AEDT), held online

Please join us at this virtual event where we will welcome new (and old) members to the society.

We have an incredible panel of SSA members lined up to share their diverse perspective and experience of life as a statistician and their involvement with the SSA.

Panel: SSA President Jessica Kasza, Andrew Van Burgel, Lynne Giles, Nan Zou.

For more information and to register click here.

Other events

Data Science in the News - Emerging Trends in Data Science and AI in 2022

Friday, 18 March 2022, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM AEST, held online 

This webinar series is brought to you by the QUT Centre for Data Science and the Queensland Academy of Arts and Science.


Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen QUT Centre for Data Science


Professor Will Browne ARM Hub, QUT School of Electrical Engineering & Robotics

Associate Professor Alice Payne QUT School of Design

Associate Professor Grant Hamilton QUT School of Biology & Environmental Science

Professor Richi Nayak QUT School of Computer Science  

Find out more about the Panel Session Topics and register here

ACSPRI's 2022 Winter Program of courses are now online and ready for enrolments.

The Online Winter Program will be held over 3 weeks, from 27 June - 15 July 2022. Each course will be limited to 12 participants, and course notes will be provided. Be sure to enrol before May 18 to take advantage of the early-bird discount. 

Links to ACSPRI's shorter Master-classes and Workshops are available on the ACSPRI Events page.

If you have any questions about courses or ACSPRI membership, please contact them on 03 8376 6496 or you can email them at

Introduction to R and Reproducible Research

21 Apr 2022 (AEST) – 22 Apr 2022 (AEST), Wilson Computer Lab, Peter Hall Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville VIC 

The Statistical Consulting Centre at the University of Melbourne is offering “Introduction to R and Reproducible Research”.

This workshop covers the tools needed to efficiently work with data using R, particularly focusing on importing, rearranging, describing and visualising data.

For more information and to register click here

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

Principal Program Evaluator

New South Wales

Department of Communities and Justice

Principal Program Evaluator Industry leading training

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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.