7 April 2022

Dear {Contact_First_Name},  

As the nation is gearing up towards another election, the focus of many statisticians will be on the opinion polls that got it so wrong with their predictions in 2019. You’ll remember that a few SSA members were actively involved in the discussion that ensued and resulted in an “Inquiry into the Performance of the Opinion Polls at the 2019 Australian Federal Election” led by led by the Australian Data and Insights Association (ADIA) (previously AMSRO). You can read the discussion paper “Disclosure standards for election and political polling in Australia”, published in May 2020, here.

In June 2020 SSA held a webinar, where our members were updated on the progress made by that inquiry; and invited to provide comments on the recommended implementation of polling standards in Australia.

Unsurprisingly, with the election to be held soon, the media have now picked up again the matter of the 2019 polling issues. Just this week the ABC’s Casey Briggs asked the question: “With election 2022 nearly upon us, can we actually trust the opinion polls this time?” (ABS News, 5 April 2022). To help him find the answer to this question, he spoke with Darren Pennay, who had chaired the above mentioned inquiry into the national polls. Read about Darren’s insight here and watch the related YouTube video here.

Yours sincerely

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer

Read newsletter in your browser

Looking back with our Past Presidents:

Ron Sandland, President 1993-1995

One of the most unusual gifts I received for my twenty-first birthday was one year’s membership of the Statistical Society of Australia. Little did I imagine that one day I would hold its highest office. The Society itself was then only six years old and its Presidents to that point had been Pat Moran, Oliver Lancaster and Doug Maitland.

When I became President in 1993, the Society had no professional Secretariat and the day-to-day work of the Society, including that of its various branches, was carried out by volunteers. The availability of people to carry out these tasks was starting to become a problem as work pressures in universities, CSIRO, the ABS and industry were mounting inexorably. I believe that the opportunity to contribute to one’s professional organisation provides excellent leadership training that carries over to one’s professional life.

I was very fortunate to have as my Honorary Secretary Helen MacGillivray whose efforts in developing the necessary framework for incorporation established a proper business framework for the Society’s development.

The issue of accreditation was in its early stages of development during my term but there was a great deal of water still to flow under that bridge.

The Young Statisticians movement was developing to become a very significant opportunity for young statisticians to meet and engage with more senior members of the profession and to understand the pressures and opportunities that had shaped their careers. A very successful Young Statisticians meeting was held in Wollongong in conjunction with Statistics93. Professor Trevor Hastie gave a brilliant talk at that conference, a pointer to a much more computationally intensive future for the statistics discipline.

ASC12 was held in 1994 at Monash University featuring eminent international and local speakers. The opportunity provided by these conferences for Australian statisticians to rub shoulders with some of the world’s finest statisticians was of immeasurable value in the development of local statistical talent.

What I remember most from my time as President was the great friendships and professional collaborations that developed in the profession through the Society’s activities. As I have noted above, change was afoot – the need for a professional secretariat was becoming pressing, the Society was incorporated (acquiring an “I” in the process), accreditation was being discussed, there was a burgeoning young statisticians’ movement and the discipline itself was changing as computationally intensive methods became more widely useable and challenges to our primacy were coming from computer science and engineering disciplines. It was an exciting time to be President of the SSA.

Ron Sandland (r) with Des Nicholls, Richard Tweedie and Nick Fisher shortly after receiving their awards for Honorary Life Membership.

Obituary: Bill McLennan, 1942 – 2022

Bill McLennan, a former Australian Statistician who had also headed the UK Government Statistical Service, died in Canberra on 19 March 2022 at the age of 80. He joined the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics (which became the ABS in 1975) in 1960 as a statistics cadet.  Bill gained a degree in Statistics and Economics from the ANU and started working at the Bureau full time in 1964.  He spent all his career there, apart from his time in UK, quickly rising through the ranks and became Australian Statistician from 1995 to 2000.

In 1992, he was appointed to head the UK statistical service where he instituted several reforms. Many of the existing arrangements in the much improved UK statistical service are due to the initiatives he led.

Bill was awarded a CBE and an AM for his contributions to UK and Australian statistics respectively.

Read more about Bill’s outstanding career in this thoughtful obituary by Dennis Trewin. 

WA Branch March Meeting with Elvezio Ronchetti

On the 8th March, 2022 Professor Elvezio Ronchetti from the University of Geneva gave a very clear and precise talk “An Introduction to the Basic Concepts of Robust Statistics” at the March meeting of the WA Branch of the SSA.   For a summary of the talk and its impetus into current areas of statistical thinking including the study of the Lasso and Machine Learning then have a gander at this link.

New ABS investments announced in Federal Budget

On 30 March 2022 the ABS released the following media release:

“Australian Statistician Dr David Gruen AO has welcomed new investments for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) announced in the 2022-23 Federal Budget.

“The 2022-23 Budget includes more than $26 million in new funding over four years for the ABS to deliver improvements to important information,” Dr Gruen said.

The Budget included $23.7 million to update the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) and $3.2 million to enhance regional labour market statistics.

The work on ANZSCO will ensure that Australia’s classification of occupations and labour market statistics reflect the current and future labour market. It will deliver a stronger evidence base to inform skilled migration programs and workforce strategies that equip Australians with skills they need and support employers to meet their workforce needs. The funding for our labour market statistics will allow us to provide a better understanding of regional labour market developments.”

Read the full media release here

ICC Women’s World Cup: A Statistician’s Delight

I don’t know anything about cricket and I am not a statistician, but if I come across an article with the title “ICC Women’s World Cup: A Statistician’s Delight” I obviously go and take a look.

Published on the website “Sambad English” (formerly Odisha Sun Times) on 4 April, the author states: “Australia's 71-run win over the Heather Knight-led England in the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup at the Hagley Oval was a statistician's delight, as several records tumbled during the course of play.”

There are many, many statistics related to cricket and the Australian team in the article, so if you happen to be a cricket fan, click here.

Significance April 2022 issue is out now!

Highlights of the April issue:

Remembering Sir David Cox - a 12-page tribute

Sir David Cox died on 18 January 2022 at the age of 97. News of his passing was met with an outpouring of tributes. To the Royal Statistical Society, he was “one of the most important statisticians of the past century”. The MRC Biostatistics Unit at Cambridge called him “a giant in the field”, while at St John’s College, Cambridge, he was celebrated as “an inspiring scholar”. In a special 12-page collection of articles in the April 2022 issue of Significance, friends and colleagues remember Sir David in their own way, while also reflecting on his immense contributions to statistics.

Also in the April issue, we mark two years of the Covid-19 pandemic with a selection of pieces on Covid datalockdownsmodelling, and student learning.


  • When the Covid-19 pandemic began, statisticians, epidemiologists and journalists around the world took up the challenge of trying to explain to the public exactly what was happening, and to draw insights from the mass of data being produced. Timandra Harkness interviews three individuals about their experiences of becoming Covid communicators.
  • Sharing data and code as part of a research publication is crucial for ensuring the computational reproducibility of scientific work. But sharing should be done at the article submission stage, not after publication as it is now, say Rachel Heyard and Leonhard Held.
  • Monika Frątczak shares findings from her PhD research exploring emotional responses to data visualisations and engagement with climate-related issues.
  • And our very own SSA member Michael Leach publishes a fabulous prose poem about Florence Nightingale, also available here.

Find out how you can access your copy here.

News from the SSA Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Section:

The first newsletter of 2022 is out now! Read it here.

News from the Statistical Education Section:

SSA's National Schools Poster Competition (NSPCreturns for its 9th year!

Data is the sword, those who wield it the Samurai” – developing the future STEM workforce.

Statistics + X: what’s your The NSPC is a fun, project-based learning activity which encourages Stages 2 to 6 school students to develop, implement and creatively report upon an investigation on any topic of interest to them (the 'X'). for prizes! 

Students conduct small-scale versions of real-world investigations in teams, developing core STEM and cross-functional skills. They create an informative e-poster presentation communicating their investigation clearly, concisely and creatively and submit within one of the five divisions (Stages 2 – 6).

A Community Division (for families, friends, colleagues) also exists – why should kids get all the fun!


  • 1.  The website provides past winning and honourable mention submissions with feedback, and many free supporting resources (e.g., animated videos on intro statistics including visual techniques and analyses, short videos of Australian experts re statistics in practice, software for analyses, a file highlighting how the NSPC maps to and supports the national curriculum, etc).
  • 2.  In addition to the five Division winners and honourable mentions (Stages 2 to 6) prizes are also awarded to:
  1. The School submitting the most entries

  2. A randomly selected winner in National Science Week (August)

    based on submissions made by 10 August (so consider entering

  • 3.   Whilst the focus is engaging students and developing their interests and abilities, this year’s Stage 5 and Stage 6 winners may also be forwarded to an international leg of the competition (which Australia has won in the past).
  • 4.  Interested in further discovering how accessible statistics can be, or possibly improving your investigations or knowledge of statistics? The e-textbook ‘Business Statistics in Australia: Methods and Applications’ is now available for $30 from, along with a sample chapter to preview.
  • 5.   Submissions are due by 10 November

Please inform friends, family, schools and anyone who’ll listen about the NSPC! Happy investigating!

We welcome early online registrations and (even rough) estimated submission numbers to assist with administration, and so you receive updates –

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.

Bill Venables Award for new developers of open source software for data analytics

The Statistical Computing and Visualisation Section is pleased to announce the creation of the Bill Venables award for new developers of open source software for data analytics, sponsored by the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDT). The goal of this award is to encourage new open source software development from the Australian community with a view to support efforts to develop and share data science and statistics methodology.

The application deadline is 24 May 2022. More information is available here.

Nominations are now open for the 2022 IAPA Top 25 Analytics Leaders

In 2022, the Institute of Analytics Professionals of Australia (IAPA) looking to find the pioneers, trailblazers, trendsetters, and innovators of the Australian analytics community. 

See how you can nominate here.

Judged by a panel of leading analytics and business leaders, the IAPA Top 25 Analytics Leaders recognises excellence in four key areas strategy and impact; influence and advocacy; innovation and improvement; and team growth and leadership.

Nominations close on 19 April 2022.

SSA Events

WA Branch event: On Arbitrarily Underdispersed Discrete Distributions, presented by Dr Alan Huang

Tuesday, 12 April 2022,  6:00PM AWST at the Cheryl Praeger Lecture Theatre, The University of Western Australia, and online

We are pleased to host our guest speaker Dr Alan Huang of The University of Queenland.

Find out more and register here

Introducing the Statistical Consulting Network Monthly Meet-Ups-29 Apr 2022, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM (AEST), held online

Come along with your thinking cap, maybe a problem, and some lunch!

The Statistical Consulting Network invites you to their monthly meet-up, a virtual lunchtime meeting where statisticians help each other out with problems that they aren’t sure how to deal with.  This will be a virtual meeting held on Zoom at lunchtime on the last Friday of each month, 12:30-1:30 PM (AEST).  We will start each meet-up in the common room for announcements, or occasionally a special topic discussion, then go to break-out rooms in smaller groups to discuss problems that attendees have brought along with them.

For more information click here

Other events

Short Course: Nonparametric and adaptive methods for causal inference, auditing, and litigation

9am-10:30am (AEST), 12 & 13 Apr 2022, online via Zoom

Attendance is free. Register here.

The 8th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference 2022 will be held online via Zoom over 23 and 24 November 2022.

The conference is organised around four themes:

  • Research paradigms and designs;
  • Research methods and techniques;
  • Research technology and tools;
  • Datasets, data collections and data archiving.

The organisers welcome presentations on any aspect of social science methodology. The conference attracts a wide variety of papers from HDR students to very established researchers. Researchers at all levels are encouraged to submit abstracts.

Please visit the call for papers page and consider submitting a proposal.

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

Experienced Survey Statistician


Social Research Centre

Design, implement and evaluate statistical methods ...

Lecturer and Senior Lecturer - Biostatistics

New South Wales

University of Sydney

Two academic continuing positions (Lecturer and ...

Lecturer or Senior Lecturer in Statistics

Australian Capital Territory

Australian National University

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

View All Jobs

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.