8 September 2022

Dear {Contact_First_Name},

Are you okay?

Today is “R U OK?Day and we’re asked to be aware of family members, friends or colleagues who may be struggling, and to check with them if they’re okay.

When I grew up, the topics depression and anxiety were rarely talked about. I would imagine that if someone mentioned feeling out of sorts, they would have been quickly told to get a grip and get over it. As a result, many of those who suffered, did so in silence. Thankfully, these days we can be more open about the state of our mental health. The beauty of this openness is that with each person sharing their personal mental health story others learn that it’s okay not to be okay.

It can be difficult to take that first step to get help, so a friend asking: “Are you okay?” could be the perfect way to get a meaningful conversation going. As R U OK? points out, you don't need to be an expert to reach out - just a good friend and a great listener. According to their research, four in ten Australians feel that asking someone “Are you okay?” is a conversation better had with an expert, but a friend listening and giving their time might be just what someone needs to help them through a challenging time.

R U OK? has released resources, tips and ideas to help you drive genuine change in your workplace, school and community, all available here.

Thank you for making a difference in your community.

If you need professional support, please contact your doctor, local health centre or one of the services listed hereFamily and friends can also call upon these services for advice and assistance on how to support someone who is struggling with life.

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer

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Statistics Don't Lie…But Sometimes Those Who Create Them Do

As a statistician, you have heard the quote attributed to Benjamin Disraeli "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." What do you reply when people seek your professional opinion on this statement? Is this true?

In an article published in “The Advertiser-Tribune” (4 September 2022), Dr Perry Haan, Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Tiffin University, gives one answer: “Statistics Don't Lie…But Sometimes Those Who Create Them Do “.

He goes on to explain that “While it is possible to manipulate statistics to create desired results, there are ways to help determine if the information can be trusted.” He recommends keeping an eye on who ordered a study and what their motivation might be. He goes on to present the example of the fictional American Egg Layers Association, presenting statistical research confirming that it is beneficial to eat a dozen eggs a day. Obviously, you would not be in any hurry to change your diet based on their study.

Haan has more examples of when statistics should not be trusted, like when bias is involved, or surveys are poorly worded. No article on this topic would be complete without a reference to pre-election polls (in this case those in the US in 2016) and how they got it so wrong.

Download the article here and be prepared next time you get asked if statistics can be trusted.

Recording available now: “Measuring Sex, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation”

Did you get to attend the SSA and ASPAI AGMs last week? They were followed by the presentation “Measuring Sex, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation”.

We presented a panel consisting of US researchers, members of the Committee on Measuring Sex, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation,who conducted a study to examine the measurement of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation  The research was undertaken to be able to make recommendations for specific measures that can be used in surveys and research, administrative, and clinical and other health settings. It was captured in the report 

If you missed the talk, you can watch it here.

Significance magazine: change in publisher in 2023

From 1 January 2023, Significance magazine will be produced by Oxford University Press. This will not affect the access of SSA members to Significance: SSA members will continue to be able to access the magazine, and if you receive a print copy, you will continue to do so. More information on the change is available here

Members of SSA have access to digital issues of Significance. Click here to find out how.

As always, if you have ideas for articles for Significance, we want to know! Take a look here to find out how you can contribute to Significance.

The European Statistics Awards

On behalf of Eurostat, we have the pleasure to announce the launch of the European Statistics Awards Programme, with competitions in the fields of nowcasting and web intelligence. The main goal of the competition is to discover promising methodologies and data sources that could be used to improve the production of European statistics. Within the awards programme, which will run until the end of 2025, Eurostat is planning three yearly rounds of competitions on nowcasting. The European Statistics Awards for Web Intelligence will be launched later this autumn. Find out more.

Statistics - a job for professionals 

Last week, in my introduction to the newsletter, I wrote: "According to CarsGuide there are to date 1580 regular AC charging stations and 291 fast charging stations in Australia. China, on the other hand, has 1,419 million public charging stations across the country."

SSA member and newsletter reader Warren Mueller was puzzled by these statistics, did a bit of research and contacted me with the following email:

"It is a shame that some motoring writers aren’t numerate. In ‘Stats Matters & Events’ you said “there are to date 1580 regular AC charging stations and 291 fast charging stations in Australia. China, on the other hand, has 1,419 million public charging stations across the country.” I checked your source and you faithfully reproduced wheat the article said. If we think about this, the China figure is grossly wrong. 

The internet told me that the approx. population of China is 1.45 billion, i.e. 1,450,000,000. If China has 1,419 million charging stations that is 1,419,000,000. So nearly one charging station per person. Noting much of the population is rural, many would not own a car or be too young/too old to drive, the correct figure is most likely 1,419,000. Still makes Australia’s total very small. On a per population basis, assuming Australia’s population is 26 million, this converts to about 1 charging station per 1000 in China and 1 per 14000 in Australia. Australia is still well behind!"

SSA Events

SSA WA: Geostatistics for Regionalised Compositions  with A/Prof. Ute Mueller

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

In this talk she will provide an overview of the geostatistical treatment of compositional data. Compositional data are vectorial data with positive components that add up to an arbitrary, but fixed constant c.

For more information and to register for the online option please click here.

SSA & NZSA ECSSNs Joint Event: The Academia-Industry War: Surviving the conflict between two opposing ideals as a graduate student
15 Sep 2022, 1:00 PM (AEST), held online

Our Early Career and Student Statisticians Network from Australia and New Zealand proudly present Dr Timothy Bilton to be our first speaker of our first ever joint seminar series.

The world of industry-based research and academia typically use the same tools and methods but are often poles part in terms of research priorities and practical application of methods. This often leads to a lot of conflict between the two fields and in some cases the inability to collaborate. In this talk, he will discuss his first-hand experience of undertaking a PhD while simultaneously having one foot in academic and the other in industry.

To register please click here.

SSA Vic Branch: Early Career Panel

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM (AEDT), Servian, Level 20, Tower 5, 727 Collins Street, Docklands OR Online via Zoom

Join us at this event to hear different perspectives of what a career in statistics looks like. We'll have a handful of Early and Mid career statisticians, working across academia, industry and government, talking about their experiences. The speakers have been invited to share their journey, what they've learned, what they've enjoyed, and what mistakes they've made along the way.

Click here to register.

SSA NSW Branch: Early Career and Student Statisticians Career Event 2022

29 September 2022, from 6pm AEST

The New South Wales branch of the Statistical Society of Australia warmly invites all undergraduate, postgraduate and early career statisticians and data scientists to attend our annual event for Early Career and Student Statisticians.  The event will take place at the Courtyard Cafe of the University of Sydney

We have spectacular speakers from several industry sectors and academic backgrounds. They will share stories from their careers and provide insights into their professions. For example, have you wondered what you can do after doing a statistics degree, or what other statistics professions are like? Then this event is for you!

Find out more and register here

DIY R Package Workshop

12 Oct 2022, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM (AEDT), held online

The NSW branch is pleased to offer a DIY R Package workshop.

Do you have a few custom functions on heavy rotation? Perhaps you have a piece of code that you regularly share with colleagues? Maybe you’ve developed a new statistical model and want to share it with the world? Why not put it all in an R package?! This interactive workshop will equip you with the basic skills to create an R package of your own! We will walk through the package building process and apply the same workflow to your own function. We will learn about testing and continuous integration and implement them using Github Actions.

For more information and to register click here

Canberra Branch Workshop:Time series analysis and forecasting using R

9 Nov 2022, 9:00 AM (AEDT) – 10 Nov 2022, 5:00 PM (AEDT)

Room 5.02, Marie Reay Teaching Building, The Australian National University

The SSA Canberra Branch warmly invites you to an in-person workshop on Time series analysis and forecasting using R, taught by Professor Rob J Hyndman (Monash University) and Associate Professor Bahman Rostami-Tabar (Cardiff University, UK).  It is becoming increasingly common for organizations to collect huge amounts of data over time, and existing time series analysis tools are not always suitable to handle the scale, frequency and structure of the data collected. In this workshop, we will look at some packages and methods that have been developed to handle the analysis of large collections of time series.

For more information and to register click here.

Save the Date! ECSS-Mini-Conference, 15-17 November 2022!

We are pleased to be holding a national “miniconference” jointly hosted by the Early Career and Student Statistician Networks (ECSSNs) of the SSA, the New Zealand Statistical Association (NZSA) and the WA Branch. This event is a “hybrid” event in that it includes two days of online-only presentations followed by one day of in-person presentations in WA. The latter shall also be streamed online.

Find out more

Save the date: ASC and OZCOTS 2023

10-15 December 2023, University of Wollongong, NSW

Find out more

Other events

Women are under-represented in Statistics and Data Science. The responsibility to increase diversity, inclusion and equity falls on each one of us, as we strive to ensure greater future representation among the younger generations within our profession. We must act now. Like the UN and mathematical societies, they propose to create an International Day of Women in Statistics and Data Science (IDWSDS). They will have a virtual conference to celebrate women statisticians and data scientists on the second Tuesday of October.

For more information click here

Workshop on Statistical Deep Learning

24-25 October 2022, Sydney Business School Level 10, 1 Macquarie Place, Sydney

There are still some spots left at the Workshop on Statistical Deep Learning, which aims to bring together researchers in the region that are interested in topics at the interface of deep learning and statistics. The workshop will be based around a set of talks, and there will be time for discussion and networking between the talks. It is not required to give a talk to attend. The workshop, which is an in-person event, is 1.5 days long, and will finish at noon on the 25th October. Space is limited and registration is required.

Find out more

ACSPRI's 2023 Summer Program is scheduled from January 16 to February 17, 2023.

They are offering a mix of online and face-to-face courses. Be sure to enrol early to avoid missing out, and take advantage of the early-bird pricing (closes December 3). 

ACSPRI offers 2 scholarships for HDR students:

  • The Indigenous HDR Scholarship, administered on behalf of the Academy of Social Sciences Australia, is available to support Indigenous HDR students by covering the cost of ACSPRI course fees. The deadline for your application is the early-bird deadline in each program.
  • The Christine Critchley Memorial Scholarship will cover the course fee for one full-time student at an ACSPRI member institution to attend a course in the Summer Program. The deadline for your application is the early-bird Summer Program deadline, December 3.

For details about the application process for either of these scholarships, please follow the hyperlinks. 

For information about all of our scheduled courses, you can visit the ACSPRI events page.

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.