Log in

News & Media releases

  • 7 May 2020 9:58 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Murthy Mittinty, Senior Lecturer in Biostatistics at the University of Adelaide, spoke at our April meeting on his work about targeted maximum likelihood estimation (TMLE) for causal inference in observational studies. This is the topic of his current research, following on from many years of work on causal inference. At the beginning of his talk, Murthy described the targeted maximum likelihood estimation, which is a semiparametric doubly robust method that improves the chance of true parameter estimation by allowing for flexible estimation using (nonparametric) machine learning methods, or super learner. He provided a step by step guided implementation of TMLE and illustrated it in a simulation scenario based on dental epidemiology.

    To attain causal inference from observational studies, methods such as G-estimation, inverse probability treatment weighting, or targeted maximum likelihood estimation (TMLE) are preferred over traditional regression approaches, which are biased under misspecification of a parametric outcome model. He claimed that the assumptions such as positivity, consistency, exchangeability, and faithfulness needs to be made when using TMLE. Doubly robust methods, which require correct specification of either exposure or outcome model have been proposed as an improvement over simple IPTW methods. He demonstrated that the assumptions about correct model specification and positivity (ie, when a study participant has zero probability of receiving the treatment) were nearly violated when implementing TMLE to a realistic scenario based on dental epidemiology.

    In conclusion Murthy demonstrated that his research provides a concise and reproducible educational introduction to TMLE for a binary outcome and exposure. The user should gain sufficient understanding of TMLE from this introductory tutorial to be able to apply the method in practice. It was an entertaining and engaging presentation through our first zoom meeting in the SA Branch.

    Key reference: Schuler & Rose (2017). Targeted maximum likelihood estimation for causal inference in observational studies. AJE; 185(1): 65-73

    Shahid Ullah

  • 7 May 2020 9:55 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The Statistical Society organised an online meeting of statisticians and epidemiologists to discuss the statistical issues concerning how Australia is battling COVID-19. Below are the five recommendations that resulted from the meeting.


    IN THE SHORT TERM (i.e. over the next month)

    1.        The tests to date have been on a ‘self-selected’ basis. They will not be representative of the population at large and so care needs to be taken on what inferences can be made about the population at large. For example, NSW and Victoria are encouraging testing to anyone who wants it. This will have a bias towards those people who have the time and capacity to drive to a site. Young adults and children are less likely to be tested. The better educated are more likely to be tested. Statisticians could provide advice on how get the best possible population inferences from the active virological (self-selected) testing regime (by geo-demographic reweighting?) and the likely limitations (biases). They could explain what the estimates mean (e.g. possible upper bound rather than actual ratio of infected persons). The extent of advice depends on the amount of geo-demographic information that is associated with individual test results.

    2.     At first glance, the self-selected sample might seem to produce an upward bias because people who are symptomatic are more likely to be tested. However, it is also likely that the self-selected sample will under-represent children and young adults especially males. These may be more likely to be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic although not tested and, if so, this would provide a bias in the opposite direction. Statisticians could provide advice on how to best supplement the active testing sample with populations that will be under-represented.

    3.      Statisticians could review procedures for estimating R0 (the basic reproduction number). This is a crucial statistic for future planning but the statistical science behind it might be able to be improved (Methodology available on the Doherty web site). Also, there are a number of assumptions in the calculations such as all asymptomatic cases actually being pre-symptomatic. It would be importance to know the extent of uncertainty created by these assumptions through tools such as sensitivity analysis.

    IN THE MEDIUM TERM (Until the virus is under control but should start work in the short term)

    4.     As soon as feasible, a national survey be conducted jointly by the ABS and health authorities to estimate the number of infections after restrictions start being released. This information is very important for monitoring the potential for a second wave that is difficult to contain. It is may become more important in the winter months when there will be more overlap between COVID-19 symptoms and other winter ailments. Also, the number of asymptotic infections is unknown. International studies show the percentage is much higher than what health experts believe is the case in Australia. Statisticians might be able to assist the ABS with the analysis of the data. The survey should be repeated until there is confidence the virus is under control.

    5.      Assist with the design, calibration and analysis of sewage testing. It could be combined with the national survey in the first instance to provide a ‘calibration experiment’. This would allow calibration with what we see in the population, reducing the need for large scale surveys in the future.

    Dennis Trewin

  • 14 Apr 2020 5:09 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The SA Branch of the Statistical Society of Australia held its branch meeting and AGM on March 25 2020. Outgoing President Shahid Ullah presented the annual report for 2019-20 calendar year. Murthy Mittinty was elected as President for the new council, along with Vice President Barbara Toson. Aarti Gulyani remains as Secretary, Paul Sutcliff as Treasurer and Wendy Li as the Young Statistician representative. Other council members elected were existing members Kylie Lange, Helena Oakley and Lan Kelly.

    Shahid Ullah presented the results of an online survey of members’ and non-members’ feedback about past and future  activities such as meetings, workshops, networking and memberships. The survey was conducted during the month of March before the AGM via an email to everyone on the SA Branch mailing list. Of 24 responses, 71% of respondents were full members and 28% of these had been for more than 10 years. 12.5% were not current members but had been in the past and 8.3% had never been members. 67% of respondents were employed at a university or academic institution, while 21% were employed outside these areas. The remainder were students or retired.

    The primary reason for joining SSA was networking (74%,) followed by training events such as conferences/workshops/seminars (39%). 79% of respondents had attended some or all of the meetings in the past year, mainly because they were interested in the seminar content. The main reason for not attending the branch meeting was due to other commitments (76%).

    Regarding future content of the meetings, applied statistics (83%) and data visualization (61%) were the most popular. And despite the survey having been designed before face to face meetings were cancelled due to COVID-19, 83% said they would consider attending meetings by Zoom!

    Lan Kelly

  • 14 Apr 2020 11:56 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The Statistical Society of Australia is pleased to offer the new membership option of Perpetual Member. If you are 50 years or older you can pay a one-off fee of 15 times the current full membership (currently 15 × $250 = $3,750) and then never have to pay again.

    For the next 12 months, members over 55 years old who have been a member for at least 10 years can pay a one-off reduced membership of 10 × $250 = $2,500 for those aged 55 to 60 years, and 5 × $250 = $1,250 for those aged 60 years or over.

    We chose not to call this a “Life Membership” because we did not want it to be confused with the title of “Honorary Life Member” which is awarded to those members who provide outstanding service to the discipline of Statistics.

    We hope some of you will take up this option to reduce your paperwork and support the Society!

    To take advantage of this offer just log into your membership account, and where it gives your membership level click on "change" and the new options will come up. During the upgrade-process you'll be asked to upload proof of your age to confirm your eligibility.

    Members upgrading to this membership type who are AStat accredited or who want to subscribe to "Significance" will be invoiced annually for these extra items.

  • 6 Apr 2020 12:41 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    On the 31st of March we held our Annual General Meeting and Public Lecture by the Former Australian Statistician, Dennis Trewin AO FASSA. Due to the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, both events were held online via Zoom, where both sessions were conducted successfully without technical hitches.  

    The AGM was well received by the 30 members of the Victorian SSA who attended. A general review of the previous year was provided and our plans for the future were discussed. Most importantly, the services of outgoing council members Geoff Adams, Luke Prendergast, Jess Kasza, Julie Simpson, and Georgia Tsambos, who have all dutifully served the branch, were recognised. For 2020, the members have elected Emi Tanaka as the Vice-President, and have elected as council members: Ben Harrap, Patrick Robotham, Rheanna Mainzer, Elizabeth Korevaar, Daniel Fryer, Lidija Turkovic, Kohleth Chia, and Hien Nguyen. 

    The Public Lecture was well attended, with 58 people logging into the session. Dennis spoke eloquently and with authority on his work regarding the construction and calculation of well-being indices. In particular, he gave a broad introduction to the history of indexation and critiqued the current prevailing state-of-the-art of such methodologies. A review of the Measures of Australia's Progress (MAP) report series by the ABS was provided as well as an introduction to the ongoing Australian National Development Index (ANDI) project. He also provided a comprehensive comparison of Australia's approach, in comparison to those of other nations, such as New Zealand and the OECD. Although the talk was largely non-technical and general, Dennis was also open to answering specific questions by the audience regarding the methodology. The audience was particularly interested in the specifics of regarding the computation, interpretation, and construction of the indices that were discussed.

    Hien Nguyen (Twitter: @tresbienhien)

  • 2 Apr 2020 10:46 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Looking to stay up to date on developments in health care technology around the world? The American Statistical Association is sponsoring “The Pod of Asclepius”, a new podcast where data scientists, statisticians, engineers, and regulatory experts discuss the technical challenges in their healthcare domain.

    We have over 20 episodes published and
    available on YouTube, Podbean, iTunes, Stitcher, Podchaser, Tune In Radio, and Google Play.

    Looking for a good place to start? Check out the following episode links:

    You can catch up on all episodes on our YouTube playlists for Season 0 and Season 1.

    The easiest way to catch new episodes is to subscribe via our channels….



    You can see our full schedule on the website.

    We would like to thank the SSA for its assistance in promoting the new series!

    Glen Wright Colopy
    ASA Section on Statistical Learning and Data Science

  • 2 Apr 2020 10:14 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    From the Royal Statisticial Society:

    "Our Statistical Ambassadors have collated an essential guide for understanding statistics about COVID-19. Here, they list definitions, things to look out for, and what you should do about the numbers you are seeing.

    During this COVID-19 pandemic, you will hear or read about many different numbers. The Royal Statistical Society exists to help the public better understand statistics. We have prepared this short guide to help you at this difficult and uncertain time."

    Continue reading.

  • 30 Mar 2020 11:31 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    SSA Canberra is greatly saddened to advise that Professor Susan Wilson passed away on Monday 16 March 2020. Sue was a strong supporter of the SSA Canberra for her entire professional career, and attended meetings until very recently. In 1997 she presented the Knibbs lecture entitled “Who counts and why? A perspective of the history of women and men in statistics”. She was later a discussant for Oliver Mayo’s Knibbs lecture in 2002, when the topic was “To what extent has Fisher’s research programme been fulfilled In Australia?”

    Sue also presented named lectures for the SSA on multiple occasions. She gave the first Moran lecture at the Australian Statistical Conference in Canberra in 2016. Her topic was “The ongoing influence of genetics/omics on advances in statistical science”. Outside of the SSA, Sue was an elected member of the International Statistical Institute (ISI), elected Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA) and elected Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS, 1995). She was the President of the International Biometric Society (IBS, 1998-1999). 

    Sue provided excellent support to female statisticians in a generally male-dominated profession and also to early career statisticians, encouraging them to attend national conferences as well as local meetings such as Canberra Branch meetings. We will all miss her wisdom and humour.

    She is survived by her son Jonathan.


    Alice Richardson, Conrad Burden, Alan Welsh, Francis Hui

  • 11 Mar 2020 11:34 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    On 5 March 2020 Science & Technology Australia (STA) announced 17 STEM Ambassadors who will work together with their local MP to help bridge the gap between science and government in Australia.

    These STEM Ambassadors represent 17 different electorates across Australia and have been matched with MPs from across the country and the political spectrum who have expressed a desire to build stronger scientific networks.

    STA President Associate Professor Jeremy Brownlie said that the STEM Ambassador Program encourages the involvement of science in Australian politics and aims to put science and evidence-based policy on the national agenda.

    “The STEM Ambassador Program is vital to forging relationships between science and parliament,” he said.

    “STA advocates for evidence-based, science-informed policy, and the STEM Ambassador Program helps to connect our national decision-makers with scientific experts who can give them direct access to research, data and evidence.

    Each Ambassador will meet regularly with their local MP to build associations between parliament and the broader STEM sector. It enables federal politicians to gain a deeper understanding of the potential impact of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in Australia.

    “It’s brilliant to see so many of federal parliamentarians involved in the program and keen to know more about the science and technology happening in their own back yards,” Associate Professor Brownlie said.

    “Australia’s STEM professionals play an incredibly important role in shaping Australia’s health and wellbeing, economic prosperity and environmental sustainability. This program empowers our highly skilled STEM workforce to make positive change and use their work to help build better policy and shape Australia’s future.”

    The STEM Ambassador program builds on the successful 2019 pilot program and brings the total number of STA STEM Ambassadors to 24 across Australia.

    The latest cohort of STEM Ambassadors come from a wide range of science, technology, and engineering mathematics professions, representing a range of sectors. 

    Congratulations to SSA member Dr Alex Russell on his nominations as STA STEM Ambassador. Alex will be working with MP Zali Steggal in the electorate of Warringah.

    • Media contact: Leesa Maroske 0439 784 216

  • 11 Mar 2020 8:27 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    In case you missed it, a report from the 2019 Research Quality Workshop of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) was released in February 2020. This committee has arisen because of concerns with the quality of health and medical research, with estimates that 85% of health and medical research is currently wasted. The importance of statistics got several mentions in the NHMRC report, and was called a “critical competence” for researchers. The report also mentioned the need for institutional support, including “centrally funded statistical support for research groups”. There was also support for “statisticians as advisors to/members of ethics committees” and we lobbied for this recommendation by writing to the NHMRC with the letter led by members Prof. Sue Wilson (ANU) and Prof. Michael Martin (ANU).

    This highlights the value of contributing to consultation processes which have an important statistical component or interest. If there’s an issue of national importance that you’d like our support on, email us to let us know.

    Adrian Barnett

    President, SSA

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software