Celebrating Diversity

"Celebrating Diversity" was the theme of the recent Australian Statistical Conference in Melbourne, where over 300 statisticians attended - the largest gathering of statisticians in Australia.  Data Analysis Australia sent a strong contingent to the conference where we presented a number of highly varied topics demonstrating the diversity of our own work.

Rian Caccianiga presented the results of Data Analysis Australia's meta analysis of woylie cage-trapping data, part of recent investigations into whether the woylie population in the South West forests of Western Australia may be in substantial decline. Rian's enthusiasm for the environment shone through in an animated and highly engaging talk, resulting in her being awarded the EJG Pitman Prize for best presentation given by a young statistician. Further details of this analysis are provided in the case study of this issue and the full presentation is on our website.

As with many organisations, the Department of Defence has an obligation to accurately account for all of its assets - from tanks and ships, to guns and munitions, to teaspoons and toilet rolls. Alex Maund presented the sampling methodology developed by Data Analysis Australia in conjunction with the Department of Defence to estimate the remediation of inventory value. Alex's presentation also highlighted the interplay between statisticians, auditors, accounting standards and the Australian National Audit Office.

The measurement of odour is critical in many environmental assessments, but is both subjective for an individual and difficult to obtain reliable or repeatable measures. The problems are complex with both temporal and spatial aspects, as well as physical constraints on how samples can be taken. Dr John Henstridge discussed the statistical issues in helping Alcoa develop a reliable odour measurement monitoring scheme for a refinery expansion as an example and provided a lesson of what can happen when statisticians are not involved in drafting a Standard for a measurement process where considerable variability is involved.

Research is a major function of universities and the University of Western Australia has the target of being one of the major research universities in the world. With the need to use objective evidence to make informed decisions, the University has developed a complex database from disparate information sources to form a complete profile of every researcher in the University. Jason Rabbitt presented Data Analysis Australia's structural equation modelling approach to analysing this data to understand the relationships between variables and assist in the prediction of research performance of individuals.

The Joondalup Police Academy both trains new recruits and provides the in-service training required by the WA Police on an ongoing basis. Workforce planning and forecasting training demand for this organisation is complex as it is not simply an issue of looking at typical retirement ages but rather understanding career paths within a sophisticated rank and promotion structure. Anna Munday presented Data Analysis Australia's Markov matrix modelling approach to understand both short and long term needs of the Academy and the recruitment required to sustain and increase the number of officers in line with population growth and increasing career mobility.

For further information regarding the diversity of Data Analysis Australia's work, please contact us at daa(at)daa.com.au or phone 08 9468 2533

October 2008