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  • 5 Apr 2022 4:03 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Bill McLennan, a former Australian Statistician who had also headed the UK Government Statistical Service, died in Canberra on 19 March 2022 at the age of 80.

    Bill was born in 1942 in Grafton, New South Wales.  As a child, Bill moved with his family to Wollongong. Bill’s family would have done it tough during these formative years, but it clearly had a big influence on his approach to life and work. He was quick to understand issues that were really important, clear on his goals and tenacious in achieving them. Despite the impression of being a hard head he was very empathetic to his staff when they had personal issues.

    He joined the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics (which become the ABS in 1975) in 1960 as a statistics cadet.  Bill gained a degree in Statistics and Economics from the ANU and started working at the Bureau full time in 1964.  He spent all his career there, apart from his time in UK.

    Initially he worked as a mathematical statistician on sampling and methodology, rising to become head of branch in 1973 at a remarkably young age. Bill helped to expand the capability of the ABS to conduct a greatly enhanced population survey program. This had a long-standing influence on the availability of social statistics in Australia. Early in his career Bill’s strong leadership qualities were recognised and subsequent postings nurtured that potential and broadened his experience. 

    Bill oversaw the establishment of the corporate planning system, leading to production of ABS's first Corporate Plan in 1987. Despite considerable resistance by the IT professionals at the time, he led the use of microcomputers and internet technologies, because he could see opportunities to reduce costs and improve flexibility in administrative and statistical activities.

    In 1986, Bill was appointed Deputy Australian Statistician and the de facto leader of the ABS. The ABS earned a very strong reputation for how it was managed, its effective use of technology and for the quality of its outputs.

    In 1987 ABS was given the choice of taking sizeable budget cuts or raising the equivalent in revenue from sales of products and services. Bill choose the latter, seizing the opportunity to focus on the needs of customers of ABS products. With a more professional approach to product design, marketing and service delivery, the changes resulted in a very substantial improvement in the ABS’s customer focus.

    In 1992, Bill was appointed Director of the Central Statistical Office (CSO) and head of the Government Statistical Service (GSS) of the United Kingdom, the first person from outside the UK to hold this post. The UK statistical system had been through a challenging period. Bill’s arrival signalled a much stronger role for the office. He recognised the fundamental role of official statistics for democracy and that the work of the GSS needed to be better understood. 

    He produced the Official Statistics Code of Practice, first published in April 1995, which set good practice and principles for statisticians producing official statistics with the aim of promoting high standards and maintaining public confidence in official statistics. He led work leading to the establishment of the Office of National Statistics. Bill’s time in UK was relatively short, at 3 years, but he certainly left UK statistics in a different and much improved state than when he started.

    In 1995 Bill returned to Australia to become Australian Statistician. Bill’s many achievements and strong leadership style are typified by the shift to disseminating statistics through the internet and the website. He also pushed ABS to take a constructive interest in the statistical activities of other government agencies and the use of administrative data for official statistics.

    In the 1980s, Bill first developed a stronger interest in international statistical activities. He personally led a reawakening of the relationship with Statistics New Zealand and later took leadership roles across the Asian Pacific region more widely. Bill was elected Chairman of the UN Statistical Commission from 1994 to 1995. It was during this time that the Commission endorsed the first version of the Fundamental Principles for Official Statistics.

    Bill retired as Australian Statistician in 2000. He was awarded a CBE and an AM for significant contributions to UK and Australian statistics respectively.

    Bill always had plenty of interest outside work. He was an avid reader and a very capable sportsman, representing the ACT at both rugby and squash. In more recent years his focus was on golf. He loved Australia and travelled widely, especially the rural areas. He bought a motor home which he used frequently, usually accompanied by the golf sticks and always some good quality red wine.

    Dennis Trewin

  • 29 Mar 2022 11:22 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Science & Technology Australia welcomes new investments in research commercialisation in the 2022 Budget, while urging deeper investment in discovery science to secure our research pipeline for coming decades and Australia’s long-term safety and prosperity.

    The extension of the new Patent Box tax break for Australian companies to manufacture clean energy technologies onshore - powerfully advocated by STA - is great news. 

    A $2 million investment to extend Science & Technology Australia’s Superstars of STEM program for another four years will help to deepen diverse women role models in STEM. 

    Science & Technology Australia President Professor Mark Hutchinson said new investments in science and technology would help turn more great Australian research into jobs.

    “Stronger science and technology commercialisation is crucial for our country - and these investments, long championed by the science and technology sector, will be pivotal to prosperity,” he said.

    “The next task is to deepen our nation’s investments in essential discovery and blue sky science - to deliver major research breakthroughs that can catapult Australia’s capabilities.” 

    “The extension of the Patent Box tax breaks to low-emissions technologies in this Budget will help entice onshore manufacturing of climate transition technologies - and is a smart move that Science & Technology Australia has advocated for consistently.”    

    “The scale of the climate change challenge for humanity is sobering - the grave safety risks driven by climate change will mean more floods, bushfires, cyclones, storms and droughts on a scale never witnessed before.”

    “Science will be our lifeline as we face all these threats - and further deep investments in Australia’s transition strategy are imperative over the next year.” 

    The nation’s peak body representing more than 90,000 scientists and technologists thanked the Government for its investment in the Superstars of STEM program for four more years.

    “Superstars of STEM is a game changing program to transform the visibility of diverse women role models and inspire girls to pursue STEM study and careers.”

    STA is pleased to see the further investment in this Budget in Indigenous rangers programs - backing in the deep scientific and engineering knowledge of Australia’s First Scientists.  

    Media contact: Martyn Pearce, STA: 0432 606 828

    Key budget measures for science and technology in the 2022 Budget include:

    • $505.2 million over five years from 2021-22 (and crucially around $182.3 million ongoing) to establish Australia’s Economic Accelerator to support projects to take university research to proof-of-concept and proof-of-scale.
    • $295.2 million over five years from 2021-22 ($142.8 million a year ongoing) to create new research training pathways for students and researchers in Industry PhDs and Industry Fellowships
    • $150 million in equity funding over five years from 2021-22 to expand CSIRO Innovation Fund (Main Sequence Ventures)
    • $37.4 million over four years from 2022-23 to establish CSIRO Research Translation Start program to build entrepreneurial skills in the research workforce. 
    • $5.3 million over two years to support science and technology advice to Government via the National Science & Technology Council
    • $4.7 million over 4 years from 2022-23 to support the Women in STEM Ambassador and Future You campaigns
    • $2 million over four years from 2021-22 to extend Science & Technology Australia’s Superstars of STEM program to build the profile of women in STEM
    • Expanding the Patent Box tax concessional rate of 17% tax rate to low emissions technologies.  
    • $839.2 million for East Antarctic exploration.

  • 17 Mar 2022 4:41 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    …and needs you! The Random Sample is a podcast that shares stories all about the impact of statistics, data science, and maths, and the statisticians, data scientists and mathematicians behind the impact. The SSA is now teaming up with the Random Sample, and is looking for an enthusiastic person to drive the organisation of stats and data science-themed episodes.

    No podcasting skills are required: all that is required is enthusiasm! This is an opportunity for you to upgrade your communications skills. You will be paid for your time (expected to be around 2 to 3 hours a week). To express your interest and for more information please get in touch with SSA’s President, Jess Kasza.

  • 11 Mar 2022 10:16 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    This week, STA President Mark Hutchinson and I gave evidence to the Senate hearing on the Australian Research Council Amendment (Ensuring Research Independence Bill). Our full submission is here.  

    On your behalf, we made a strong case that there is no need for a Ministerial power to approve individual research grants for funding because Australia has a rigorous and robust system of expert peer review and national science and research priorities set by the Government.

    There always needs to be accountability for public spending – that’s an important principle. 

    But the best way to achieve that doesn’t require Ministerial involvement in approving hundreds and hundreds of individual grants in specialised fields of knowledge outside of their expertise.

    Indeed, the Westminster traditions on which Australia’s democracy was modelled enshrine the Haldane principle of research independence. In the UK, Governments and Ministers set the overarching strategic research priorities, but individual grants are decided by expert peer review.

    The Australian Research Council has rigorous and robust grant assessment procedures guided by the top experts in each field. Given this, there is no need for a Ministerial power of approval. 

    We also reiterated our call for fixed dates for ARC grant applications, approvals, and recipient notifications to be set and published three years ahead. This is key to bring certainty to both industry and researchers. 

    Views were strongly aligned across the sector, including the Australian Institute of Physics, the learned academies and university peak bodies and vice-chancellors.  

    This year’s Science meets Parliament was a triumph - our biggest and most successful event ever. Our huge thanks to everyone who supported it as a delegate, speaker, or sponsor. A record-breaking 528 delegates had an incredible week of professional development, networking, and skills building.

    Some of the many highlights in 2022 included:

    • A fireside chat with Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty on the power of science in our era;
    • Global media stars Professor Brian Cox and Wiradjuri astrophysicist Kirsten Banks in conversation on the importance of clear science communication to tackle misinformation and disinformation; and
    • STA President Professor Mark Hutchinson outlining a vision for how Australia can take more of our great science and technology breakthroughs from the lab “bench to boardroom”.  
    This week, Science meets Parliament delegates met with MPs and Senators to discuss their science. This included an inspiring meeting with Science and Technology Minister Melissa Price MP.

    Huge thanks to the whole team at STA who brought together the 22nd Science meets Parliament with such skill, talent and a prodigious amount of work. Here’s a tiny glimpse from behind the scenes.  

    And it’s not over yet! On 2 June, we’ll bring together STEM leaders and policymakers for in-person dinners in all eight capital cities across Australia hosted by our MC, ABC star Nate Byrne – tickets are open to the whole STEM community. 
    If you haven’t yet done the SmP2022 delegate survey, please do so. This feedback ensures Science meets Parliament will continue to be a great success connecting the science and technology community with decision-makers.

    Finally, the 2022 Federal Budget will be handed down on Tuesday 29 March. Please join us for our STA members-only post-Budget briefing on Thursday 31 March at 2pm AEDT. Register here.

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 

  • 10 Mar 2022 3:13 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    We are looking for a student or early career statistician to take on the role of Early Career & Student Statisticians Network (ECSSN) Chair from April 2022.

    The ECSSN Chair is an important position on the Society’s Executive Committee (EC). The holder of this position will work closely with the ECSSN Branch representatives, consider important issues facing early career statisticians and report back to the EC at their monthly meetings.  Traditionally, the ECSSC Chair helps with organising events, including SSA’s signature event for early career and upcoming statisticians, the biennial ECSS Conference.

    Being the Chair of the ECSSN will provide a fantastic opportunity to broaden your own experience while helping your fellow student and early career statisticians and promoting statistics. Contribute to your field and build your CV! This is an honorary two-year role; find more details 

    Please contact the current Chair, Janan Arslan or the SSA President, Jess Kasza if you have questions about the role.

    To apply, please email your CV and a brief description of what you think you could bring to the role to the SSA Executive Officer before 1 April 2022.

  • 9 Mar 2022 12:32 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    This position reflects the journal’s continued commitment to strategic use of social media channels to amplify its content. The successful candidate will work closely with the ANZJS editorial team, Wiley staff, and the authors of published papers to promote the contents of the journal. The focus will be on developing a strategy to improve the journal’s social media presence, particularly on Twitter, and investigating other appropriate social media platforms.

    This is a formal editorial position, and the Social Media Editor will be part of the editorial team.

    The Social Media Editor will ·

    • Manage and contribute content for the journal’s Twitter account: @ANZJStat
    • Ensure that each new published article is promoted on Twitter at least once using appropriate hashtags
    • Work with authors to maximise opportunities for summarising and promoting their work
    • Investigate additional social media platforms that may be appropriate for promoting the journal’s outputs

    Other Key Responsibilities

    • The additional key responsibilities of a Social Media Editor include:
    • Represent and promote the journal amongst colleagues/at conferences
    • In collaboration with the Editor-in-Chief and the editorial team, make every effort to ensure that there is no defamatory or plagiarised material 
    • Attend Editorial Meetings in person or via teleconference if and when required
    • Maintain confidentiality of journal matters, content and collaborators
    • Carry out the responsibilities of the Social Media Editor to the reasonable satisfaction of the Editor-in-Chief.
    • Identify and suggest topics and authors for invited manuscript submissions for consideration to Editor-in-Chief.

    Further Information

    The Social Media Editor’s name and affiliation are included on the journal editorial board page. The Social Media Editor position is voluntary and honorary.

    Social Media Editor position has a duration of three years, with possibility of renewal and extension, as recommended by the Editor-in-Chief and the editorial team.

    The application deadline is 1 April 2022. More information can be found here.

  • 24 Feb 2022 1:46 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Would you like to become a committee member for the SSA Mentoring Program?

    The SSA mentoring committee is about to start planning the third year of its successful mentoring program. The program provides an opportunity for emerging statisticians to develop personal and professional skills, as well as providing connections between statisticians from across the nation.

    This wonderful initiative is developed and managed by the SSA Mentoring Committee (pictured below). We are a team of statisticians eager to increase the support available to our community for success in the workplace. The committee is dedicated to delivering a program that meets the needs of its diverse range of mentees . To do this, the committee is seeking expertise, experience and perspectives to ensure diverse representation of the statistics community. Do you have the fresh new voice we’re looking for? Please get in touch!

    To express your interest in joining the SSA Mentoring Committee, or for more information, please email with a couple of paragraphs about yourself and why you are keen to get involved.

  • 22 Feb 2022 5:31 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Are you an early-career statistician with a compelling data story to tell? Think you can take the jargon out of your stats chat? Keen to put your writing skills to the test? “Yes!”, I hear you cry! Well, I’m delighted to hear you say that: it sounds like the Significance 2022 writing competition is for you! The Significance magazine, a partnership between the Royal Statistical Society, American Statistical Association and the Statistical Society of Australia, is seeking applications for the ‘Statistical Excellence Award for Early-Career Writing’. As the SSA began its partnership with Significance mid-2021, we are particularly keen to encourage contributions from our members so get your thinking caps on to come up with some exciting content. 


    • Students currently studying for a first degree, master’s or PhD in statistics, data science or related subjects;
    • Graduates whose last qualification in statistics, data science or related subjects (whether first degree, master’s or PhD) was not more than five years ago.
    • Note that you do not have to be a member of the SSA (or the other partner organisations) to enter.


    • Submit your best statistical writing in the form of a magazine article (1,500 to 2,500 words) on any subject you like as a .docx, .odt or .rtf file to, making sure to include the competition entry form.
    • Writing style must be accessible and engaging: you are not writing for a technical audience.



    • Articles will be reviewed by a judging panel with the winning entry (and up to two runners-up) published in Significance later this year.
    • Up to three finalists will win a full registration to the 2022 Royal Statistical Society International Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland.

    Still not sure? Check out the 2021 winning entry for inspiration. The closing date is 31st May 2022; further details can be found here.

  • 15 Feb 2022 1:20 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    What a hectic fortnight it has been.

    It began with the Prime Minister’s announcement at the National Press Club of a $2.2 billion investment in research commercialisation. This includes a $1.6 billion fund - Australia’s Economic Accelerator – to offer grants up to $500,000 and $5 million to enable researchers to take their science and technology to proof-of-concept, prototype and market. Science & Technology Australia’s long-term leadership has advocated for just such a scheme. Further details on the package can be found on the DESE website. We were particularly delighted that two of STA’s key leadership figures and commercialisation trailblazers – STA President Mark Hutchinson and STA Policy Chair Sharath Sriram – featured as successful case studies in the action plan. You can also find FAQs on elements of the plan here and here. STA warmly welcomed the investment.

    And the fortnight closes today with excellent news for women in STEM. Today, the Australian Government and Science Minister Melissa Price have announced a $2 million investment in our game-changing Superstars of STEM program. This will extend the opportunities of the program to another 120 women over the next four years. We thank the Government and Minister Price for this powerful investment in the talent of Australia’s women in STEM. This unique program - created by STA in 2017 - works powerfully to boost the public and media profiles of diverse women in STEM and fast-track their careers. By building this critical mass of visible role models, and through skilled outreach into the nation’s schools, this program is inspiring the next generations of girls and young women into STEM. Its success is documented in a detailed evaluation report that STA has launched today. It shares data, case studies and clear evidence of its success. We publish it to share knowledge of how to spur gains in pursuit of gender equity. 

    The Australian Research Council Amendment (Ensuring Research Independence) Bill 2018  was this week referred to the Education and Employment Legislation Committee for an inquiry and rapid report by 15 March. We expect a call for submissions will be made soon. STA continues to engage on these and related matters.

    STA’s Board met this week for our first full Board of the new year. STA’s cluster representatives expertly relay information from your cluster reports and meetings to the full Board to inform our whole-of-sector advocacy. We also held a strategic planning session to set STA’s strategic framework and approve the annual work plan for 2022. It’s going to be a very busy year!

    Finally, it’s now just over two weeks until Science Meets Parliament! If you haven’t already, please register your delegates ASAP and encourage your members to apply for one of our coveted scholarships - open until Monday. It’s a powerful program of skills development.

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 

  • 11 Feb 2022 1:34 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Media Release Science & Technology Australia

    The Australian Government has today announced a further $2 million investment to advance women in STEM through Science & Technology Australia’s game-changing Superstars of STEM program.

    This powerful investment in Australia’s STEM leadership talent will enable 120 more brilliant and diverse women in STEM to turbo-charge their media profiles and career success over the next four years, helping to inspire the next generations of girls and young women into these crucial fields.  

    STA thanks the Australian Government and Science Minister Melissa Price for the announcement of this crucial investment in Australia’s science, technology, engineering and maths talent.

    Since 2017, this world-leading program has fast-tracked the profile and careers of 150 brilliant Australian female scientists, smashed gender stereotypes about what a scientist looks like, and inspired tens of thousands of school children to consider studying STEM.

    An evaluation report highlighting the astronomical success of the program is being launched today.

    Science & Technology Australia CEO Misha Schubert said the Superstars of STEM program was “starting to powerfully ‘shift the dial’ on women’s under-representation in STEM and deliver more equity and diversity of scientists in public life.”

    “We know it’s hard to be what you can’t see. By nurturing these diverse visible role models of women in STEM - in the media, in public leadership and in our schools - this program powerfully shows girls and young women that STEM is for them.” 

    “At its heart, the Superstars of STEM program is about brilliant women scientists lifting each other up to be visible public role models and inspire our next generations into these crucial careers.”

    The evaluation report was launched today by twin events with Science Minister Melissa Price at Western Australia’s Pawsey Supercomputer facility, and an online national event with the Australian Government’s Ambassador for Women and Girls in STEM Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith.

    The evaluation report of the program’s impact from 2019 to 2021 shows more than 21,000 Australian school students have been inspired by school visits and talks by the Superstars of STEM.

    The program has stratospherically elevated the profile and fast-tracked the careers of Superstars, reaching cumulative media audiences of 83 million people through more than 4000 media appearances from July 2020 to June 2021.

    The Superstars of STEM program is funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, and is an initiative of Science & Technology Australia. 

    Science & Technology Australia is the not-for-profit peak body for the sectors, representing more than 90,000 scientists and technologists across Australia. 

    STA CEO Misha Schubert and several Superstars of STEM are available for interviews.

    Read the Hon Melissa Price MP’s media release here.

    Media contact: Martyn Pearce, STA: 0432 606 828

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