24 March 2022

Dear {Contact_First_Name},  

It was an exciting week for our Event Coordinator, Jodi Phillips, and me, as we spent it at as hosted buyers of the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) in Melbourne. For several days we enjoyed tours of some of Melbourne’s best venues for conferences and meetings, followed by two days of non-stop meetings with Australian and international providers of venues, technical event support and catering. I feel like I’ve been eating non-stop for five days straight.

One of the questions on every event organiser’s mind was: To go “hybrid” with future events, or to keep things strictly face-to-face? I guess the answer lies somewhere in the middle and it will be a matter for our future conference committees to explore further. We listened to many arguments for hybrid events and against, so if you are planning an event and you are not sure if hybrid is the way to go, please feel free to get in touch, and I will share some of the arguments with you.

Can I tell you, though, that it was incredible to finally be able to meet in-person again, and to chat face-to-face with my colleagues and fellow association representatives. Yes, we were given complimentary RAT tests with our conference satchels, but no, Jodi and I are still well, and we did not have to use them.

Here’s to meeting again face-to-face soon!

Yours sincerely

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer

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Looking back with our Past Presidents:

Nick Fisher, President 2002-2003 (*2)

Plans are worthless, but planning is everything (*1): W(h)ither the SSA?

It has been my practice, when finding myself on the Executive of a professional society, to ask three questions:  How much do we hold in reserve? (*3) How much should we be holding? and How should we be spending the rest of the money?

When I became SSA President some 20 years ago, the answers turned out to be: A lot. Don’t know, and Don’t know, the third of which launched me on an interesting path … exploring how to go about Strategic Planning in a professional society.  I instinctively drew a basic approach I had been developing for performance measurement, established a small planning team, and after an inordinately long time, the SSA’s first Strategic Plan emerged (*4). Anyway, we then had a defensible basis for how to spend members’ funds.

Since then, I have facilitated an increasingly more efficient version of this process in several professional societies including the ISI, and was a member of the ASA’s Strategic Planning Task Force that essentially followed this process.  The ASA work led to contracts to facilitate SP for one US Statistics department, then for an entire College of Science, all its departments and research centres at another university, and ultimately to an article documenting the process.

Why this exegesis on my little research journey?  Well, whereas 20 years ago strategic planning  provided a useful guide to how to spend funds, 20 years on I am convinced that it will be critical to determining whether SSA survives and prospers in the next few years, or is overwhelmed by the massive onrush of Data Science.  In the argot (*5) of SP, Data Science presents itself both as a huge opportunity, should the SSA choose to recognise it as such and take bold action to evolve; or as a terminal threat, should the ASA be reactive and incremental in its response. 

(*1) Dwight D Eisenhower, amongst others. Usefully coupled with Prussian Field Marshal Dwight D Eisenhower, amongst others. Usefully coupled with Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke the Elder’s view that “No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the main enemy forces.”  

(*2) Visiting Professor of Statistics, University of Sydney and Principal, ValueMetrics Australia. Email

(*3) These questions will come as a great surprise to colleagues familiar with my profound uninterest and incompetence in matters relating to money.

(*4) 20 years on, I am still struggling to complete work on Strategic Objective 6:  Develop and promote a Statistics Curriculum in schools (with Statistics changed to Data Science, a few years ago).

(*5)  Specifically, a SWOT analysis, which is a critical evaluation of the current situation. S = Strengths, W = Weaknesses, O = Opportunities, T = Threats.

Celebrating 60 years of the SSA: Diamond Jubilee Fellowships

To celebrate 60 years since the formation of the Statistical Society of Australia as a national association of statisticians, in 2022 the Society is offering up to 4 SSA Diamond Jubilee Fellowships, worth up to $5000 each, to help further the careers of our early/mid-career members. These SSA Diamond Jubilee Fellowships are intended to celebrate this Society milestone and to offer a boost to our early/mid-career members whose careers may have been limited by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, eligibility criteria, and to apply, see here. 

Applications close on 28 April 2022.

Reflections of 60 years of SSA -  by Dr Robert (Bob) Mellor

I joined the Statistical Society of Australia in May 1964 and have been a member ever since. The NSW Branch held a Symposium in May 1964 and Professor Oliver Lancaster (University of Sydney) encouraged his honours students to join the Society and attend the Symposium. In early 1965 I moved to Canberra with the then Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics and joined the Canberra Branch. I was Secretary of the Canberra Branch1975-77, Member, Central Council 1975-77, Member, Council, NSW Branch 1979, 1996-98, Member, Council, Canberra Branch1982-83. In the first ten years of my career the Society gave me the opportunity to speak to the Canberra and NSW Branches on five occasions, and also to the 2nd  Australian Statistical Conference in Perth (August 1973). More recently the Society has provided many opportunities to present, particularly at the bi-annual Statistical Conferences.

Brief Bio

1964 First Class Honours, Mathematical Statistics, University of Sydney

1973 Ph D in Statistics, Harvard University (supervisor Prof W G Cochran)

1965-81 Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics/Australian Bureau of Statistics

1981-85 Bureau of Transport Economics

1985-2006 Associate Professor (from 1991) University of Western Sydney

         – last 5 years Head of School, Quantitative Methods and Mathematical Sciences

Publications And Other Papers

Referred Publications                            67

Conferences/Professional Meetings      88

Other Scholarly Papers                          64

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

Subscribe to the ADSN News

Do you know the Australian Data Science Network (ADSN), a partnership of more than two-dozen data science research centres and organisations across the nation? The ADSN aims to connect expertise in data science across Australia, improve communication, encourage collaboration, expand opportunities, and promote our individual and collective capabilities. To make sure you don’t miss an update, subscribe to the ADSN Newsletter to get the latest news, events and opportunities delivered straight to your inbox. 

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.

Canberra Branch AGM

The Annual General Meeting of the SSA Canberra Branch will be held in hybrid format, both in person at Ainslie Football Club and online. The relevant documents: agenda, proxy form, Council nomination form etc., are on or will soon be loaded to the google drive SSA Canberra Branch AGM documents. After the AGM, Belinda Barnes, Madhi Parsa and Robert Clark will be giving a talk. 

Tuesday 29 March 2022, 5:15pm – 6:00pm AEDT (AGM) and 6.00pm – 7.00pm (talk)   

Speakers: Dr Belinda Barnes (Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment) (DAWE), Dr Mahdi Parsa (DAWE), Associate Professor Robert Clark (Australian National Univity)

For those at Ainslie Football Club we will be having dinner at the club after the talk. If you want to attend the dinner please sign up at SSA Canberra Branch dinner attendance sheet by 5pm Monday 28 March, so that we can book a table for the correct number of people. 

Register here

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.

Register here

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

Breaking out of COVID-19: Post-pandemic, is life just permanently digital?

Presented online, Friday, 1 April, 1 pm AEDT (12pm AEST)

This is the latest in the series of “Data Science in the News” webinars hosted by the QUT Centre for Data Science. Experts in the areas of digital safety, digital communication, digital well-being, and digital pedagogy will share their views on what their areas might look like once the pandemic breaks and consider the question of what our digital future might need and how we can help society achieve it.

Register here

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

Lecturer or Senior Lecturer in Statistics

Australian Capital Territory

Australian National University

Classification: Academic Level B or Level C Salary ...

Principal Program Evaluator

New South Wales

Department of Communities and Justice

Principal Program Evaluator Industry leading training ...

View All Jobs

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