5 May 2022

Dear {Contact_First_Name},  

I can’t think of any other time of the year when we had so many public holidays and special occasions so close together. It all started with Easter in mid-April, followed by the ANZAC Day long weekend, followed by Labour Day in certain Australian states. And to top it all off, many of us will celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, usually a pleasant occasion as well, despite us not getting a day off.

While originating from the United States, Mother’s Day, or some form of occasion meant to honour mothers, is celebrated in more than one hundred countries around the world. I could not find any statistics for Australia, but Americans plan to spend US$31.7 billion on Mother’s Day gifts and outings this year. US$2.9 billion will be spent on flowers alone, accounting for 26% of all holiday purchases at flower shops!

How will you spend the day? Will you even celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend? This may depend not just on your relationship with your mum, but also on your heritage, as different countries have different traditions:

Each year in October, Hindus honor Durga, the goddess of mothers, during the 10-day festival known as Durga Puja.

In Japan, a version of Mother’s Day grew popular after World War II as a way of comforting mothers who had lost sons to the war. It is celebrated in March, and the flower of choice is the carnation, symbolizing sweetness, and endurance.

In Ethiopia families celebrate their mothers with the Antrosht festival, observed at the end of the rainy season in early Autumn. Families get together for a special meal, dancing, and storytelling, with daughters traditionally bringing vegetables and cheese and sons supplying meat.

In France, after World War I, mothers were awarded medals. The government started to give out medals to mothers of large families, to thank them for keeping the population growing. In Germany this happened under the Nazi regime, but you had to work hard to receive this honour and give birth to at least four children to be eligible.

The British celebrate Mother’s Day in March. Their Mother’s Day started out as a day where families who had moved away would return home to attend a service in their original parish. Even today, churches hand out daffodils on Mother’s Day, for children to give to their mothers.

And in Australia? I suspect for many it will be another opportunity to crank up the BBQ or head to the local seafood market to stock up on supplies. One of my best memories is walking on the beach on Mother’s Day a couple of years ago and seeing a young man with his mum. He had set up a tent, complete with a rug, table, and chairs, and served his mum a seafood platter and champagne. She must have done something right, raising him like that!

If your mum lives far away, don’t forget to give her a call. I’m sure it will mean a lot to her. In fact, being an empty nester now, I know it will. If your mum is no longer with us, I'm sorry. Maybe you can treat yourself to some flowers and think of her when you look at them.

Whether you will be calling mum, dancing, telling stories, eating scrumptious meals, or ducking into the flower shop to pick out a special bunch, I hope you and your family have a special day.

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer

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Looking back with our Past Presidents:

Patrick Moran, President 1962-1965

Thank you to Past President John Henstridge, for the words on the first President of SSA. In his email giving us permission to use the article below, John wrote: “He (Pat) was a wonderful person and a wonderful statistician.”:

Patrick Alfred Pierce Moran, universally known as Pat, was a giant in Australian statistics, known for both his original thinking and for his care for members of the statistical community.

Pat was born in Kings Cross, Sydney, on 14 July 1917, the son of an eminent doctor.  At age 16 he entered the University of Sydney to study chemistry, zoology, physics and mathematics.  We are fortunate that Pat did not follow the advice of the then Professor of Mathematics, H.S. Carslaw, that he “should choose some other career as he would not succeed as a mathematician”.

In 1937 he enrolled at St John’s College, Cambridge, to study mathematics.  World War 2 intervened and in 1940 he took up a position in the Ministry of Supply, providing him with an introduction to the coming generation of British statisticians such as Maurice Bartlett.  In 1943 he joined the Australian Scientific Liaison Office, working on numerous applied problems.  This changed his career into being a statistician.  When the war finished, he chose to not complete his PhD at Cambridge, but to join the Institute of Statistics at Oxford University.

Pat’s career returned to Australia when he was invited to establish statistics as a discipline at the then new Australian National University.  He remained as professor at the ANU for the next thirty years and during this period he supervised many students who became the leaders in Australian statistics for the following decades.  His research output included four major books: The Theory of Storage (1959), Statistical Processes of Evolutionary Theory (1962), Geometrical Probability (1963) and An Introduction to Probability Theory (1967).

It was fitting that Pat was chosen as the inaugural President of the Statistical Society of Australia in 1963.  It was one the many honours that Pat Moran received in his lifetime, a list that included being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. However, the achievement he was most pleased with was seeing his protégés develop their own remarkable careers.

Hence it is fitting that the Statistical Society of Australia named its first Lecture series after Pat Moran.

Should we trust the polls again?

The discussion continues: How could the polls get it so wrong in the 2019 Federal Election? In his article "Should we trust the polls again" (Canberra Times, 2 May 2022), Steve Evans refers to the enquiry undertaken by the Association of Market and Social Research Organisations and yours truly, the SSA, trying to find the answer. The findings revealed thathe pollsters had not adjusted their methods in line with the the change of human behaviour over the last few decades.

Read Steve Evans' article in Canberra Times here

ISI announces the appointment of Conchita Kleijweg as new director

The International Statistical Institute (ISI) pleased to announce the appointment of Conchita Kleijweg as the new Director to succeed Ada van Krimpen when she retires on 1 July.

ISI President Stephen Penneck said: "I am delighted to welcome Conchita to the ISI family. She is an all-round professional, and her policy and management experience will bring added strengths to the ISI. Conchita has gone through a rigorous competition which shows that she is an excellent match for the job.

I also want to pay tribute to Ada van Krimpen, who many members will have known over her twelve years at the ISI. She will be much missed. I have invited her to attend the WSC 2023 in Ottawa as our guest, where you will have the opportunity to thank her yourselves."

Read the full media release here

Celebrating 60 years of the SSA: Diamond Jubilee Fellowships


To celebrate 60 years since the formation of the Statistical Society of Australia (SSA) 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.

SSA PhD/Masters Top-Up Scholarships 2022

Are you undertaking a PhD or Masters degree with a project in the development of statistical or data science methodology, in the assessment of statistical or data science methodology, or in the development of statistical/data science software? The Statistical Society of Australia (SSA) wants to support you! You may be eligible to apply for an SSA PhD/Masters Top-Up Scholarship. Up to 4 Scholarships, worth $2500 each, will be awarded to SSA student members. Find out more here.

Applications close on 12 May 2022.

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

SSA's 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.

SSA Events

SSA WA: Early Career & Student Statisticians Evening

10 May 2022, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM (AWST), Cheryl Praeger Lecture Room, The University of Western Australia 

Announcing the May meeting of the WA Branch of the Statistical Society of Australia dedicated to Early Career and Student Statisticians. All visitors are welcome to attend this event, especially anyone studying or interested in pursuing a career in statistics.

The winner of the 2022 Honours Scholarship will be announced this evening.

The two invited speakers are the joint winners of the 2021 Honours Scholarship: Michael Gerrard and Tinula Kariyawasam. Michael will present via Zoom from Canberra and Tinula in-person at UWA.

For those that cannot attend in-person, the presentation will be streamed live over Zoom.  For information on the speakers and to register click here.

QLD Branch Meeting: Regressing the periodogram: automatic and model based learnings from natural events, landslide and cyclones 

Please join us online for the May Queensland Branch Meeting, on the 11th of May. The seminar will start at 3:00pm, with a branch meeting starting at 4:00pm. Please find details for the seminar below.

11 May 2022, 3:00 -5:00pm, held online

Natural hazards affect millions of people around the world by impacting livelihood and economies. Communities in the tropics are routinely at risk of various climatic extremities. In an evolving climate regime the need for novel methods for monitoring these events are prescient. In this presentation we will consider two natural spatio-temporal events that are statistically non-stationary. The first one is that of landslides which are characterised by ground deformations along slopes. We propose an ensemble methodology – an algorithm – to monitor a Landslide using its second order statistical properties. Our method contributes to the literature of machine based algorithms than can account for stochastic variation. Our research was motivated by a disastrous tailings Dam collapse in Brazil. The second one is that of modelling tropical cyclone frequencies in the Australasian region and are a key indicator for monitoring climate dynamics. We propose a two stage semi-parametric frequentist modelling approach that can be applied across a range of spatio-temporal events. 

Presenter Dr Sourav Das

Sourav is an applied statistician and a Lecturer in Statistics and Data Science at the James Cook University, based in Cairns. His primary research interests are in modelling natural processes that evolve over space and time – disease incidence, neurological signals, landslides, floods and earthquakes. Sourav obtained his PhD in Statistics (2011) from the University of Manchester and followed it with Post Docs at the National University of Singapore and the University of Bristol.

Register here

Other Events

Free IAPA webinar: Can analytics fight the great resignation?

Tuesday 17 May 2022, 5.30pm to 6.30pm AEST, held online

Whether the great resignation is a “thing” in Australia or not, today the existing competitive talent market has moved into overdrive.

Join IAPA after work for this people focused webinar, jointly hosted by workforce analytics expert and author Peter O’Hanlon and James Vaughan, Head of Data Products at CoreLogic, to better understand how people analytics can help to know what capabilities are needed, how best to plug the gaps, and track whether the tactics are working.

Drawing on content from Peter’s book, “The End of the Middle: How Bots, People Analytics, and Remote Work spell the end of management as we know it“, the session will explore how combining artificial intelligence, people analytics, bots, employee experience and agile HR can transform your business into a scalable, efficient, data-driven - but very human workplace.

Register here

Australian Data Science Network (ADSN) Webinar:

Advancing Data Science in Australia

13  May 2022, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM AEST, held online

This webinar will explore the report released by the Australian Academy of Science on 'Advancing data-intensive research in Australia'

This is the first of a six-part monthly webinar series from the Australian Data Science Network. This series will focus on the October 2021 Report released by the Australian Academy of Science on 'Advancing data-intensive research in Australia'.

In this webinar, the ADSN will focus on some of the high-level findings of the report and discuss the relevance for ADSN member organisations. Our guest speakers are:

  • Professor Jane Elith – Report Co-Author
  • Emeritus Professor Michael Barber – Report Co-Author
  • Anna-Maria Arabia – Chief Executive at The Australian Academy of Science

QUT Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen will moderate the panel discussion.

Register here

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