The Victorian Branch of the Statistical Society of Australia Inc. (SSA Vic) is an umbrella group for all statisticians practising in Victoria and Tasmania, and for all non-statisticians with an interest in the field of statistics. It is run by the Branch Council, consisting of the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Newsletter Correspondent, Webmaster and several other councillors (up to 10 in total, including the executive positions). Members have the opportunity to participate in branch activities, and receive the Society’s journal, the SSAI Newsletter and the Branch Newsletter.

Join the Statistical Society of Australia

Major branch activities include:

  • Monthly meetings
  • Sponsorship of statistical events
  • Workshops
  • Support for the Victorian Young Statisticians

The monthly meetings are held from March to November each year, usually on the fourth Tuesday of the month. A local, interstate or international speaker addresses the meeting on a topic of general interest to statisticians. The Annual General Meeting is held in March. The premier meeting is the Belz Lecture in October or November each year. It features a prominent statistician discussing a statistical issue of broad interest, and is followed by the annual Belz Dinner. The Belz Lecture also doubles as a University of Melbourne Public Lecture. Meetings will be held at The University of Melbourne unless otherwise indicated.

SSA Vic mailing list

We have a mailing list for members of SSA Vic. Members can post messages which will be received by all on the list. If you wish to advertise seminars, workshops, job vacancies or have other announcements relevant to the society’s interests, you are welcome to post to the list.  Simply send your message to:

If you are not a member and wish to add your name to the list, contact Sue Finch, sfinch AT

Statistical Events

The Branch Council supports worthy statistical events, particularly those with high potential impact and for which a local statistician is a key member of the Organising Committee. In recent years the Branch Council has provided some financial assistance for:

  • Support for young statisticians to attend the Young Statisticians Conference in Brisbane in July 2011 (also Canberra, April 2007)
  • The ISI/IASE Satellite Meeting associated with the International Statistical Institute meeting in Sydney in April 2005
  • The Sixth International Conference on Teaching Statistics (ICOTS6), Capetown, South Africa, July 2002
  • The Sliced Inverse Regression Workshop, La Trobe University, October 2002
  • The Great Australian Science Show, Melbourne, 2001


The Branch Council organises workshops on topics of interest to local statisticians. Details of current workshops can be found under Events.

Recent workshops were:

  • Februrary 2011. Vector generalised additive modelling.  Presenter: Thomas Yee, University of Auckland.
  • November 2009. Introduction to R. Presenters: Andrew Robinson, Owen Jones, Robert Maillardet, Professor Richard Huggins, University of Melbourne.
  • November 2006. Bayesian methods workshop. Presenter: Professor Kerrie Mengersen, Queensland University of Technology
  • November 2005. A Workshop on the R System. Presenter: John Maindonald, ANU
  • October 2004. Improving Survey Data Quality. Presenter: Professor Denise Lievesley, Director of Statistics, UNESCO

Young Statisticians

The Branch Council supports the Victorian Young Statisticians Group, both financially and professionally. For example, in 2011 a number of scholarships were given to support attendance at the Young Statisticians conference.  The Branch Council also provided scholarships (the Denise Lievesley Awards) for four Young Statisticians to attend the International Statistical Institute meeting in Sydney in April 2005. The Branch pays for a substantial portion of the cost of refreshments at the Young Statisticians’ monthly meetings and the annual cocktail party.
Constitution (1976, Amended 1994, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2010, 2012)
The Branch Constitution can be found here.
A copy of Branch Regulations can be found here.

Past members of the Branch Council

Members of the Victorian Branch Council from 1964 can be viewed here.

The Belz Lecture

The Belz Lecture commenced in 1969 when Clem Pratt was the Victorian Branch President of the Statistical Society of Australia. It has become the premier event of the Victorian Branch calendar. The Lecture is named in honour of Maurice Belz, the Foundation Professor of Statistics at the University of Melbourne, who was largely responsible for setting up the first autonomous Department of Statistics in Australia. The 1969 meeting notice states:

“The first Maurice H. Belz Lecture, recently inaugurated by the Statistical Society in honour of Professor Maurice Belz for his work in establishing and advancing the science of Statistics in Australia, will be given in the Sisalkraft Lecture Theatre, Architecture School, University of Melbourne, on Tuesday, November 25th, at 7:45 pm.”

A brief biography of Belz follows later.

Initially the Belz Lecturers knew Belz personally. As the supply of prominent statisticians in this category diminished, the criterion for selecting the Belz Lecturer changed. The honour was usually given to a high-level statistician with some association with the University of Melbourne, such as a staff member or former student. Today there is no pretence that the Belz Lecturer necessarily has any association with Belz or the University of Melbourne. The choice of Belz Lecturer is made by the current President of the Victorian Branch, after discussion with the Branch Council. The main criteria are a good reputation as a speaker, and an ability to provide insight on issues of concern to the wider statistical community.

The Belz Lecture is not an academic seminar. It should appeal to a broad range of statisticians, and be at a level accessible to all. A full list of titles of past Belz Lectures follows.

The Belz Lecture is always presented at the University of Melbourne, and in some years (particularly recently) has been gazetted as a University of Melbourne Public Lecture. The date has never been fixed, although in recent years it has usually been held on the fourth Tuesday in October. It commences at 5.45 pm, and is followed by the Belz Dinner at a nearby university dining room or local restaurant. The Lecture audience usually numbers between about 50 and 100, a substantial fraction of which goes on to the dinner.

Year Lecturer Title
2013 I. White Synthesizing medical literature
2012 C. Wild The need for speed
2011 K. Mengersen Adventures in Bayesian statistics
2010 C. Lloyd Data based public debate: Why aren’t we at the centre of it?
2009 J. Carlin Filling in the missing values: Multiple imputation and the magic of applied statistics
2008 W. Dunsmuir Time Series That Count!
2007 A. Welsh Fisher and inference for scores
2006 R. J. Hyndman Forecasting and the importance of being uncertain
2005 A. Baddeley Sampling for vegetables
2004 D. Lievesley The role of an international statistician
2003 D. Vere-Jones Teacher and student: glimpses in the life and times of the Russian mathematicians A.Y. Khinchin and B.V. Gnedenko
2002 R. Watson A statistical hotchpotch
2001 D. Trewin The importance of a quality culture
2000 G. Laslett The Jinmium controversy
1999 O. Mayo Assessing interaction in genetical systems
1998 J. Matthews Breakthrough or bunkum? Sources of bias in the design, conduct, analysis and interpretation of clinical trials
1997 B. Brown The importance of being smooth
1996 S. Sheather What every statistician should know about robust and nonparametric regression
1995 I.R. Gordon Tall tales but true: some data-based short stories
1994 S. Wilson Past, present and future challenges at the interfaces of statistical science and molecular genetics
1993 A. Pettitt Stochastic approximation: an opportunity for statistical modelling? (Or MC all squared = E for ecstasy?)
1992 T.C. Brown Does passive smoking cause lung cancer and did dust cause Mr Smith’s lung cancer?
1991 D. McNeil Statistical graphics and experimental research
1990 R. Sandland The Division of Mathematics and Statistics at CSIRO: hallucinations, nightmares and visions
1989 J. Darroch Where do probabilities come from? Sources of stochastic variability
1988 D.J. Scott Statistics and computing or why I can’t choose a computer
1987 R.G. Jarrett Statistics – the way forward
1986 P.G. Hall Changes and challenges of contemporary statistical theory
1985 D. Ironmonger Statistical perspectives – some effects on society
1984 T.P. Speed Some statistical aspects of nuclear materials safeguards
1983 D.J. Daley Ranking individuals
1982 G.S. Watson Statistical problems in the earth sciences
1981 E.J. Hannan Is theory practically useless?
1980 C.C. Heyde Trends in the statistical sciences
1979 J.S. Maritz Standard errors: some new thoughts on an old problem
1978 G.A. Watterson Testing for selection in genetic evolution
1977 N.G. Becker Models and designs for experiments with mixtures
1976 P.D. Finch The crude analysis of survivorship data
1975 J.M. Gani Some aspects in the development of statistics in Australia
1974 P.J. Brockwell Probability: past and present
1973 C.R. Heathcote The statistician and nuclear proliferation
1972 J.B. Douglas Contagion isn’t catching
1971 E.J. Williams Whither statistical principles?
1970 P.A.P. Moran Maximum likelihood estimators under anomalous conditions
1969 W.J. Ewens Statistics: a perspective from genetics

Maurice Belz: A Brief Biography

Maurice Belz was born on the 1 February 1897 at Auburn, Sydney. He was educated at Sydney Boys’ High School and The University of Sydney, from which he graduated with a B.Sc. in 1918. He was awarded the university medal in mathematics. In 1920 he received a Barker travelling scholarship, and completed his M.Sc. at Cambridge in 1922. He worked in the Cavendish Laboratory under Lord Rutherford.

In 1923 Belz took up a lectureship in mathematics at the University of Melbourne. In 1929 he introduced a course on the theory of statistics. With Professor J.H. Michell he published The elements of mathematical analysis (London, 1937). In 1948 the University of Melbourne, at Belz’ instigation, formed the first autonomous Department of Statistics in Australia. Belz, then associate professor, was appointed head, and was promoted to professor in 1955. He retired in 1963.

Many of the initial generation of Australia’s professional statisticians were either trained or taught in Belz’s department. He established a course for graduates of science and industry, and encouraged university researchers and industrial organizations to seek statistical assistance from departmental staff. During visits to Britain (1961, 1964 and 1970-1972) he worked as a consultant to the British Petroleum Company in London, and prepared Statistical Methods for the Process Industries (London, 1973) for publication.

Belz was elected a member of the International Statistical Institute in 1948, and he was made an honorary member of the Statistical Society of Australia in 1970. He was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1954. He died on 28 March 1975.

Adapted from Betty Laby (1993) Maurice Henry Belz (1897-1975). The Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, pp. 160-161.


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