SSA March 2019 eNews

Welcome to the March edition of the SSA newsletter!

I hope it will provide you with some interesting reading just in time for the weekend.

Thank you to the branches and sections for their contributions, and a special thank you to our Vice President Communications, Carmen Lim, who keeps me up-to-date with what's happening in the world of statistics.

Have a good weekend! 

Marie-Louise Rankin, Executive Officer


President’s Award for the Biostatistics Collaboration of Australia

On 13 March 2019 the Statistical Society of Australia awarded the 2019 President’s Award for Leadership in Statistics to the Biostatistics Collaboration of Australia (BCA). This award is for the BCA’s outstanding contribution to statistics based on their sustained work since 2001 to provide Australia with much needed skills in biostatistics, which includes research in genetics, clinical trials and public health. The BCA has a great national reputation and its students are highly prized for jobs in health and medical research, an area that has a growing need for statistical skills because of the increasing size and complexity of data. Read the full media release here.


SA Branch Meeting, February 2019: Making the most of your curves

The speaker for the February meeting of the SA Branch was Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos, a visiting research fellow at the School of Psychology and casual lecturer at the School of Education, both at the University of Adelaide. The goal of Fernando’s talk was to highlight how the shape of the data can be better described by identifying their location, scale and shape parameters. He discussed how very often data follow non-normal shapes, and how biased results are obtained when applying statistical tests which assume normality and homogeneity of variance. Read the full article here.


Statistician added to the government’s new skilled occupation list

We are delighted to see that Statistician has been added to the government’s new skilled occupation list. Recruiting well-qualified statisticians in Australia has been difficult for many years as demand has exceeded supply. We welcome the addition of colleagues from overseas and also hope to see more young people studying statistics here in Australia because you can have a rewarding career whilst also making a real difference to people’s lives and the Australian economy.  Find out more here.


Want to quit a bad habit? Here’s one way to compare treatments

Whether it’s quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake or making healthier dietary choices, many of us have habits we’d like to change. But it’s really hard to know which treatment path to take.

To advise their patients on the best of course of action, doctors sometimes compare treatments using something called the “number needed to treat” (NNT). In deciding whether to embark on a course of treatment, NNT can help. But the term is easily misunderstood by patients, and doctors as well. In this article in "The Conversation" Co-Chairs of the SSA Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Section Sabine Braat and Karen Lamb break down what NNT means.


Water quality mediates resilience on the Great Barrier Reef

Threats from climate change and other human pressures have led to widespread concern for the future of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Resilience of GBR reefs will be determined by their ability to resist disturbances and to recover from coral loss, generating intense interest in management actions that can moderate these processes. SSA members Kerrie Mengersen and Christopher Drovandi are two of a number of co-authors of a paper, quantifying the effect of environmental and human drivers on the resilience of southern and central GBR reefs over the past two decades. Read the article published in Nature Ecology & Evolution here.


An environmental cleaning bundle and health-care-associated infections in hospitals (REACH): a multicentre, randomised trial

The hospital environment is a reservoir for the transmission of microorganisms. The effect of improved cleaning on patient-centred outcomes remains unclear. The authors of this article, including SSA members Adrian Barnett and Nicole White, aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of an environmental cleaning bundle to reduce health care-associated infections in hospitals. Read the complete article here.


Alan Welsh awarded 2019 Hannan Medal

Outstanding contributions to science have been recognised by the Australian Academy of Science with 20 of Australia’s leading scientists receiving a 2019 honorific award. One of them is our very own Professor Alan Welsh FAA, Australian National University. Read more here.


Statistics in the Capital: AGM and El-presidente talk

SSA Canberra will be hosting its Annual General Meeting followed by a talk from current president Warren Muller. Not much more to say for now other than looking forward to seeing you there! If you are also a member and interested in joining the Canberra council, please keep an eye out for the upcoming email for how to join. We strongly encourage higher degree students, early to mid-career statisticians and female statisticians to consider joining!

The meeting is scheduled for Monday 25 March. Details will be available in due course on the Canberra branch meeting website.

Warren Muller, Daniel Fearnley, Francis Hui

On behalf of SSA Canberra


Upcoming Event: Gaining skills in biostatistical consultancy

The SSA Biostatistics & Bioinformatics Section is delighted to announce we are hosting an event in conjunction with the Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute on consultancy skills for biostatisticians. The all-day workshop will take place at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne on Thursday 4th July. We have four fantastic speakers: Dr Emily Karahlios and Professor Julie Simpson from Melbourne University, Associate Professor Susan Donath from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Dr Emi Tanaka from Sydney University. The workshop will cover a range of subjects including communication skills, how to reach and interact with different clients, how to manage consultancy projects from start to end and how to secure funding as a consultant. Further details will be available soon but please save the date!



The next National Health and Medical Research Council Symposium on Research Translation will be in Melbourne in November 2019. The theme will be “Research Translation in the digital age: harnessing the power of data and analytical technologies”. Further details will be released by the NHMRC


Science Meets Parliament 2019 

As mentioned in the December newsletter, Science & Technology Australia 's "Science meets Parliament" will once again be taking place in 2019 and this year STA will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the event. Due to the limited sitting dates in the 1st half of 2019 as a result of the Parliamentary Sitting calendar, and the upcoming Federal Election, STA has now decided to hold SmP on 13-14 August. If you would like to be SSA's representative, please apply by 31 May 2019. Simply send us an email to to tell us why you would like to attend SmP and why you think you'd be a suitable candidate. Any applications already received will be retained and considered closer to the event as well.  


New discounts for SSA members!

New discounts are now available to our members from CRC Press!

And don't forget your discount on Wiley publications: 35% off books (excluding text books), as well as reduced subscriptions to the magazine ‘Significance’.

To retrieve your discount code to use any (or all!) of these offers please log in as a member at and go to the "Members only discounts" page (beneath the "Members login" heading. 

Applications now open!

SSA's Golden Jubilee Travel Grant provides up to $1,000 in overseas travel funds to student members of the Society, who can prove consecutive SSA membership for a minimum of two years and who will present at an overseas conference.  Applications close on 31 March 2019. Find out more.

The environmental stats section is now on Twitter. Their twitter handle is @EnviroStatsSSA

SSA Career Centre

Looking for a change? The SSA Career Centre may have options for you.

See current positions available here.

Are you an employer? Click here to see resumes of potential candidates.                                                     

See our events listing to see what's coming up!