28 July 2022

Dear {Contact_First_Name},  

Did you know that it is “DonateLife Week”? On Monday I happened to see a touching newsclip on organ donation and the gift of life that it can be. It was evident in the story that the gift was not only for the recipient of the life-saving organ, but for the loved ones of the deceased donor as well. They mentioned that they took comfort from the fact that their loss had not been in complete vain.

DonateLife Week runs from 24-31 July this year and features “The Great Registration Race”. This is a public awareness initiative that encourages Australians to register as organ and tissue donors, hoping for 100,000 more registrations just this week.

Knowing that I am addressing statisticians in this newsletter I need to find a context that makes this topic relevant to you. I thought the best way to do this is by presenting some statistics: 

  • Last year 1,174 Australian lives were saved through an organ transplant due to the generosity of 421 deceased organ donors and their families.
  • 4 in 5 Australians support donation, yet
  • 13 million eligible Aussies have not yet signed up
  • Becoming an organ donor is rare – only around 2% of people who die in hospital have the opportunity to become an organ donor
  • 9 out of 10 families give consent when their family member was registered to be a donor, but
  • this drops to 4 out of 10 when a family didn’t know their loved one wanted to be a donor.
  • 1,750 Australians are currently on the organ transplant waitlist
  • A further 13,000 are on dialysis and some may benefit from a kidney transplant.

What can you do to make a difference? Register here as an organ and tissue donor.

Do you think you are already registered? You can check your status in your Express Plus Medicare App #OrganDonation #TissueDonation. As it happens, recently my husband pointed out that my Medicare records show no indication that I am a willing organ donor, despite me having carried an organ donor card around for the last twenty years. So, it is worth checking your Medicare records occasionally.

If you are a registered donor: Thank you! Hopefully you will not be in a position to donate any organs for a long time yet.

Until next week,

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer

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Launch of the official ASC and OZCOTS 2023 website!

The local organising committee and scientific program committee are pleased to present the official website for the 2023 Australian Statistical Conference (ASC) and Australian Conference on Teaching Statistics (OZCOTS). The website was launched today. Bookmark the page and check it out from time to time as we add more information about keynote speakers, abstract submission, registration fees, accommodation and sponsorship options.  As with any conference website, this one is a work in progress and will remain so until the conference is over.

Our conference organisers are working tirelessly on putting together a rich program, lining up talks by renowned speakers and about relevant topics. Two confirmed keynote speakers are Dr Kalinda Griffiths, Centre for Big Data Research in Health, University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Professor Xiao-Li Meng, Department of Statistics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Professor Xiao-Li Meng will present the Foreman Lecture. Over the coming months we will add the names of more keynote speakers as they are confirmed.

If you register your expression of interest here, we will be able to keep you updated on all the relevant conference developments and key-dates.

Check out the ASC and OZCOTS 2023 website here

NZ - Will proposed bill erode independence?

A bill presented to the NZ parliament by Statistics minister David Clark, attempting to repeal the Statistics Act 1975, has sparked widespread controversy because of its alleged lack of legislative oversight and regulation of data sharing and data linkage across government.

While most people would agree that in recognition of modern digitisation of data, the act from 1975 needs to be overhauled, if not replaced, it is feared that the new bill goes too far, effectively being a ‘‘land grab’ for New Zealanders’ data. In particular, the bill enables greatly increased data collection from multiple sources, while then freeing up the sharing of that data for the ill-defined purpose of ‘research’.” (Thomas Beagle, Stuff, 31 March 2022).

In a heartfelt opinion piece published on "Business Desk", 10 June 2022, former NZ chief statistician Len Cook raised concerns that the proposed change would allow Stats NZ powers to be transferred to other agencies, by-passing any controls. He specifically mentioned the Australian Data Availability and Transparency Act 2022, which was put in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening.  Former Stats Minister Maurice Williamson shares Cook's concerns.

A press release by Scoop Independent News, published  last Monday, 25 July 2022, states: “We agree with the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties (NZCCL) that the Data and Statistics Bill gets the trade-off between people’s and companies’ privacy and the broader public good of well-informed decision making wrong. It is bad and unbalanced legislation.”

Meanwhile Statistics Minister David Clark insists that the law will “not give Stats NZ sole control over government data, nor expand the scope of information gathering by agencies.” (Newshub, 25 July 2022). 

SSA statement on co-authorship

The SSA has released a statement on issues to consider when deciding whether the contribution of a statistician to a research project warrants co-authorship. Statistical consultants can share this statement with their collaborators. The statement was developed by the Statistical Consulting Network, in consultation with its members. The statement can be found here.

Calling superstars of statistics!

Science and Technology Australia is searching for the next batch of STEM Superstars! If you're a woman or non-binary person who is keen to spread the word about statistics (or any other STEM discipline), then you can find more information about the Superstars of STEM program here.

The SSA would love to see more of our members join the Superstars of STEM ranks: if you have a look through the Superstars from previous years you'll find some SSA faces. Do you want to join them and tell the world about how wonderful statistics is? You've got until August 14 to apply!

STA's annual Professional Scientist Employment and Remuneration Survey

As statisticians, we understand the importance of data: and now Science & Technology Australia (STA) is asking for some of yours!

Science & Technology Australia and Professionals Australia invite you to participate in the annual Professional Scientist Employment and Remuneration Survey.

Through this survey, you will contribute to the most comprehensive benchmark report of scientist remuneration and employment conditions in Australia. The survey will also provide important insights into the unprecedented and continuing impact that COVID19 has had on Australia’s scientific workforce.

Your responses will provide an important glimpse into Australia’s science sector which, in turn, will help us advocate with and for this sector to Government, policymakers and the Australian public. The more scientists who participate, the more comprehensive and meaningful these results will be.

What do people need to know?
The survey takes 10-15 minutes to complete.
It is entirely anonymous.
It is open to all science professionals in Australia.
All survey participants can enter the draw to win one of two $500 JB HiFi vouchers.
The survey closes on 7 August 2022.

Take the survey

SSA Events

Statistical Consulting Network-  July Meet-Up

29 Jul 2022, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM (AEST), held online

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 virtual meeting is 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 and the zoom link click here.

SSA QLD Branch Meeting: Considering patient outcomes and healthcare costs when obtaining prediction model cutpoints may improve value-based care

3 Aug 2022, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM AEST, held at Q430, Kelvin Grove Campus, Queensland University of Technology or by Zoom

In this presentation, Rex Parsons will outline how we can integrate these downstream events into the cutpoint selection process and move towards value-based care. 

For more information and to register please click here

Joint SSA WA Branch & IBS-AR (Australasian Region of the International Biometric Society) August Meeting:

Non-parametric and semi-parametric models for analysing longitudinal data

presented by Dr Kefei Chen, SAGI West, Centre for Crop Disease Management (CCDM)

9 August 2022, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM (AWST), held at room 300.219, Life Sciences, Curtin University, Bentley

General linear mixed effect models are the standard workhorse for statistical analysis of longitudinal data. However, analysis of longitudinal data can be complicated for reasons such as difficulties in modelling correlated outcome values, time-varying covariates, nonlinear and non-stationary effects. Nonparametric and semiparametric statistical approaches have been proposed to take advantage of their flexibility and making less assumptions, in particular for longitudinal data with temporal uncertainty, and unknown complex relationship between outcomes and covariates. I will present a comparative study on full parametric linear/nonlinear mixed modelling, nonparametric methods with Bayesian additive Gaussian process modelling (AGPM) and semiparametric methods with (shape constrained) generalised additive mixed modelling (GAMM, SCAM) in the analysis of longitudinal data in agricultural research. The nonparametric and semiparametric statistical approaches offer a good balance of flexibility and interpretability along with improved performance and accuracy.

Register here

SSA Vic does Pub Trivia

SSA Vic will be reserving tables at The National Hotel in Richmond for anyone keen to gather, chat and play pub trivia!

Here are the details:

When: Tuesday, 9th August 2022. 

Time: 6.30pm for a 7pm trivia kickoff

Where: The National Hotel, Richmond.
Please register, so that we know how many tables to reserve.

Just for members: You can collect a drink token for use at the bar.

See you there!

Please register here

Webinar: Kernel Stein discrepancy minimization for MCMC thinning in cardiac electrophysiology

The SSA Bayesian Section invites you to a webinar by Dr Marina Riabiz, "Kernel Stein discrepancy minimization for MCMC thinning in cardiac electrophysiology.", held on 29 Aug 2022, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM (AEST), online.

Dr Riabiz will present a novel method that retrospectively selects a subset of states, of fixed cardinality, from the sample path, such that the approximation provided by their empirical distribution is close to optimal. This is based on greedy minimisation of a kernel Stein discrepancy, and it is suitable when the gradient of the log-target can be evaluated and an approximation using a small number of states is required.

For more information and to register click here.

SSA NSW Branch Meeting: July Event (in August) – Dr Shila Ghazanfar (DECRA Fellow at University of Sydney) - Mosaic single cell data integration

3 Aug 2022, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM (AEST), held at Sydney Uni and on Zoom

Current horizontal data integration techniques use a set of common features, thereby ignoring non-overlapping features and losing information. In this talk Dr Ghazanfar will describe the current state of play for vertical, horizontal, mosaic and diagonal single cell data integration.

For more information and to register click here

SSA SA August Branch Meeting: The design and analysis of a two-phase experiments involving human subjects

17 Aug 2022, 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM (ACST), held at 182 Victoria Square, Flinders University, Adelaide, Level 10, Room 10 and online

The design and analysis of a two-phase experiments involving human subjects: a case study

Speaker: Chris Brien, Adjunct Associate Professor, UniSA STEM, The University of South Australia; Senior Biostatistician, The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility, University of Adelaide

Two-phase experiments were introduced in 1952 by the Australian statistician George McIntyre. Their use has been most prevalent in agriculture experiments, especially plant breeding experiments. However, there is the potential for their application to be much more widespread. This potential is not being realized because of a lack of awareness of multiphase experiments within the statistical community.

A potted history of two-phase experiments will be given and an explanation of what constitutes a two-phase experiment provided, using a scenario in a sports science context as an introductory example. The use of the anatomy of a design for understanding the confounding in the experiment will be outlined.

The case study involves a pain-rating experiment reported in a 1997 paper by Solomon, Prkachin, & Farewell. The data from a subset of the experiment was analyzed by Farewell and Herberg (2003) and by Jarrett, Farewell and Herzberg (2020) using analyses-of-variance. A further re-analysis using linear mixed models that has been described by Brien (2022) will be outlined. Suggested improvements for the design of future experiments, based on the results of the re-analysis, will also be presented.

Register here

Save the date: ASC and OZCOTS 2023

10-15 December 2023, University of Wollongong, NSW

Find out more

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