Data Science in the News


21 August 2020, 12 noon to 1pm – “Digital health technologies: how do they contribute to good health and performance”

Don’t forget to register here to get your webinar link which will be emailed on the day of the webinar

This expert panel of researchers will share how data science can provide insights into digital health technologies. This will be followed by a Q&A session.

Moderator: Professor Helen Chenery – President, Queensland Academy of Arts and Science


  • Dr Paula Charlton – Performance Health Manager, Triathlon Australia
  • Professor Stewart Trost – Associate Director of IHBI, Queensland Centre for Children’s Health Research
  • Associate Professor Marina Reeves – Deputy Associate Dean (Research Development), Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland
  • Associate Professor Anthony Leicht – Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, James Cook University

More about the Panel Session Topics:

Dr Paula Charlton: “Injury prevention outcomes in elite Australian triathletes – underlying principles and use of a digital platform”

This presentation will outline the strategy implemented to prevent bone stress injuries in elite Australian Triathletes and how a digital platform contributed to this process.

Professor Stewart Trost: TBA

Associate Professor Marina Reeves: “Digital Dietetics”

In this presentation, Marina will give a brief overview of the role of digital technologies in dietetic practice to improve health and wellbeing, in particular the role of telehealth and highlighting her work in women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Associate Professor Anthony Leicht: TBA

More about the Moderator and Panelists:

Professor Helen Chenery has extensive strategic and operational experience in executive leadership roles within the higher education and health sectors and has Honorary Professorships at both The University of Queensland and Bond University. Most recently, she was Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine at Bond University where she played a pivotal role in driving national health system reform and innovation. In previous roles – as Director of a translational clinical research centre in neuromodulation and Deputy Executive Dean (Academic) in the Faculty of Health Sciences at The University of Queensland – she has led policy and practice reform in dementia care, human neurobionics, health workforce innovation, the adoption of digital health technologies and inter-professional education/practice. She is currently Principal of H J Chenery Consulting and is a non-executive director on the Board of the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service.

Dr Paula Charlton is the Performance Health Manager for Triathlon Australia. Her role focuses on the development of systems and processes for ensuring optimal health and performance for elite Australian Triathletes. She has previously worked in both Olympic and Professional Sport as a Senior Sports Physiotherapist and Strength and Conditioning coach at the Australian Institute of Sport, the Melbourne Demons Football Club and Melbourne Storm Rugby Club. Her research interests include implementation of epidemiology principles for injury and illness prevention and training load optimization.

Stewart Trost is a Professor of Physical Activity and Health, in the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, at Queensland University of Technology, Australia. Trost’s research interests include measurement of physical activity and sedentary behaviour, psychosocial and environmental correlates of physical activity behaviour, and community-based interventions to promote physical activity and prevent obesity in children and youth. He has served as a consultant on matters related to measurement of physical activity to many domestic and international research groups and public health organizations including the Australian Federal Government, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, US Centers for Disease Control, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Trost headed the scientific committee responsible for drafting the first children’s physical activity recommendations for Australian youth, was a member of the scientific committee for drafting physical activity and screen time recommendations for Australian children under five, and was a member of the CDC panel to establish evidence-based guidelines for physical activity in school aged youth in the United States. In 2012, he served on the USA President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition Science Board. Trost currently serves as the Associate Director of IHBI at the Queensland Centre for Children’s Health Research where he leads the Children’s Physical Activity Research Group.

Associate Professor Marina Reeves is the Deputy Associate Dean (Researcher Development) in the Faculty of Medicine and Associate Professor (Nutrition) in the School of Public Health. She is also an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and Heads the Nutrition Unit within the School. Her program of research is focused on the role of weight management, diet and physical activity in improving outcomes for women diagnosed with breast cancer. Her research has been funded by continuous project grant and fellowship funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF). A/Prof Reeves is currently leading a pilot study evaluating an exercise and diet intervention for women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Marina has a particular interest in the use of broad-reach delivered interventions (e.g. delivered via telephone, SMS) to achieve and maintain weight loss and behaviour change in adults with complex chronic conditions.

Associate Professor Anthony Leicht is a senior academic within Sport and Exercise Science at James Cook University. He is an experienced exercise scientist/researcher with an international reputation and expertise in the responses to exercise with a particular emphasis on autonomic cardiac control. He has over 25 years of experience as an exercise science academic and enjoys teaching undergraduates within the areas of exercise physiology and exercise testing. He has published extensively, been involved in the successful reception of funding and awards, a member of several national/international exercise science and physiological organisations, an editorial board member for numerous international journals, and a regular invited reviewer for >50 international journals within the areas of Sport and Exercise Science, Cardiovascular Function and Physiology.


31 July 2020. Going for gold: data, data science and elite sports

Resources TEST


Webinar #9 – 17 July 2020, 12 noon to 1pm on “What can we learn from George Floyd’s death, and what role can data and data science play in this?”

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis USA at the hands of police has been headline news worldwide, sparking discussions, demonstrations, reflections and statements. His death highlights many important issues and questions. It prompts us to reflect on the role that data and data analysis play in these issues and, in turn, how these issues might inform our work as data scientists. To this end, we turn the focus of our “Data Science in the News” panel presentations to the following topic: “What can we learn from George Floyd’s death, and what role can data and data science play in this?”

The panel sessions are co-organised by the QUT Centre for Data Science, QUT Carumba Institute and the Queensland Academy of Arts and Science. The aim is to bring together speakers to discuss this topic from a range of perspectives, with the aim of exploring how data and data science can contribute to meaningful conversations, decisions and changes as a result of this tragic event.

Our third session will include the following moderators/panelists:


  • Associate Professor Christopher Lawrence, Director (Indigenous Engagement), Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, University Technology Sydney.
  • Professor Louise Ryan, Distinguished Professor, School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, University Technology Sydney.


  • Ms Angela Barney-Leitch, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy), Queensland University of Technology
  • The Honourable Margaret White AO, former Supreme Court of Queensland justice – the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court of Queensland
  • Professor Lyndall Ryan AM FAHA, Conjoint Professor in History, University of Newcastle
  • Professor Cindy Shannon AM, Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous), Griffith University

More about the Panel Session Topics:

Ms Angela Barney-Leitch: “Examined but unheard – Indigenous students in education data”

Education Departments gather a plethora of data on students to develop policies in Australia which by and large reflect the dominant or majority culture. Where Indigenous Australians are included in that data, its examination and sub sequential policies are, often undertaken on their behalf. Indigenous people are seen but unheard in the education system. Seeking out and examining data from a different perspective to the norm allows for an understanding of the impact of the education system on those for whom it has not been designed.

The Honourable Margaret White AO: “Can data science shape juvenile justice policy?”

Data tells us much about the future life trajectory of those young people who come in contact with the criminal justice system and the different ways of managing that contact. But prior to that contact exposure in utero and in infancy to trauma may result in a set of circumstances which predispose a child to state intervention and thence into that justice system. Policy makers are now better equipped to evaluate what works to deflect undesired outcomes

Professor Lyndall Ryan AM FAHA: “Digital mapping as a tool for representing massacres on the Australian colonial frontier”

Twenty years ago, the debate about massacres of Aboriginal people on the colonial frontier were the key focus of the history wars. Were they widespread or were they a rare event? How can we know? In response the colonial frontier massacres digital map project was developed. The digital map uses a rigorous methodology that includes a definition of frontier massacre, and an understanding of its characteristics, to identify frontier massacres of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across Australia 1788-1930. The digital map is not only accessible online it is regularly updated with new sites and corrections. Analysis of the map data has produced new findings about the prevalence of frontier massacre and how they happened.

Professor Cindy Shannon AM: “Data science and health outcomes for Indigenous people: Communication and implementation are the largest gaps to close:

There exists a substantial literature documenting the poorer health outcomes and shorter life expectancy of Indigenous Australians and this literature has existed for many decades. So why is this national imperative, the first of the seven Closing the Gap targets, remained stubbornly resistant to change, particularly for Indigenous children under five? Data collected about and in partnership with Indigenous people and their communities provides important insights.


More about the Moderators and Panelists:

Associate Professor Christopher Lawrence is an Aboriginal health and wellbeing researcher. He has a background in education and postgraduate research degrees with a Masters of Applied Epidemiology and a PhD in Indigenous health and lifestyle choices. He has been a Chief Investigator on many research grants including an NHMRC Tripartite study exploring Indigenous Resilience in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. He was also the 2008-2009 Australian-American Fulbright Indigenous Scholarship recipient and studied at Harvard University. In 2016 A/Professor Lawrence was awarded an Australian Research Council grant to explore how technology can help close the gap. A/Professor Lawrence is now the Head of the Centre for Indigenous Technology Research and Development in the School of Software at the University of Technology Sydney.

After completing her undergraduate degree in statistics and mathematics at Macquarie University, Professor Louise Ryan left Australia in 1979 to pursue her PhD in statistics at Harvard University in the United States. In 1983, Louise then took up a postdoctoral fellowship in Biostatistics, jointly between Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Harvard School of Public Health. She was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1985, eventually becoming the Henry Pickering Walcott Professor and Chair of the Department of Biostatistics at Harvard. Louise returned to Australia in early 2009 to take up the role as Chief of CSIRO’s Division of Mathematics, Informatics and Statistics. In 2012, she joined UTS as a distinguished professor of statistics in the School of Mathematical Sciences. Louise is well known for her methodological contributions to statistical methods for cancer and environmental health research. She is loves the challenge and satisfaction of multi-disciplinary collaboration. She has received numerous prestigious awards, most recently her 2012 election to the Australian Academy of Science.

Ms Angela Barney-Leitch is the QUT Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy). Ms Barney-Leitch is a Woppaburra Guami Enkil whose country is the Keppel Islands off the coast of central Queensland, Australia. As Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy) she is responsible for providing leadership in developing the strategic direction of the university regarding Indigenous matters, including institutional policy, strategy and advice in relation to all aspects of Indigenous higher education at QUT. Prior to joining QUT, Ms Barney-Leitch was the Director of Indigenous Policy and Strategic Innovation for the Queensland Department of Education. In that role she was responsible for leading the strategic development of Indigenous education policy within Queensland.

The Honourable Margaret White AO is a former Supreme Court of Queensland justice—the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court of Queensland. White was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1992 and was elevated to an Appeals Court Justice in 2010 until retirement in 2013. She was the co-Commissioner with MickGooda into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory 2016-2017. She is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Queensland and a member of the Queensland Government’s Youth Justice Strategy Reference Group

Professor Lyndall Ryan AM FAHA taught Australian history in three Australian universities for more than 30 years and is best known as a historian of the Australian colonial frontier. Her first book, The Aboriginal Tasmanians (1981) broke new ground in arguing that contrary to widespread belief, the Tasmanian Aboriginal people did not die out in 1876 or at any period in history. Her most recent book on the history of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people, Tasmanian Aborigines: A History since 1803 (2012), focuses on settler policies to exterminate the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and the process of reconciliation in the 21st century. In the aftermath of the history wars and the debate about whether frontier massacres were widespread across Australia, Lyndall made a careful study of the practice of massacre in other parts of the world and developed a typology of massacre for application to the study of massacre on the colonial frontier in Australia. In 2014 she gained a major research grant from the Australian Research Council to prepare a digital map of massacre sites across the Australian frontier to 1960. As a new way of making Australian history visible, the map relies on a concise definition of frontier massacre and a rigorous methodology to investigate and verify the evidence. Stage 3 of the map, containing more than 300 sites of frontier massacre, was launched in November 2019.

Professor Cindy Shannon is a descendant of the Ngugi people from Moreton Bay. She is currently the Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous) at Griffith University. She is also an Emeritus Professor with the University of Queensland and was the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement) at the University of Queensland from 2011-2017 and Director of its Poche Centre for Indigenous Health. Prior to that she led the development and implementation of Australia’s first degree level program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers. Cindy has led major reforms in Indigenous health and played a key role is supporting the establishment of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health in supporting South-East Queensland.


Webinar #8 – 3 July 2020, 12 noon to 1 pm on “What can we learn from George Floyd’s death, and what role can data and data science play in this?”

Presentation slides from Christopher Emzin

Presentation notes from Kate Devitt

Presentation slides from David Lovell

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis USA at the hands of police has been headline news worldwide, sparking discussions, demonstrations, reflections and statements. His death highlights many important issues and questions. It prompts us to reflect on the role that data and data analysis play in these issues and, in turn, how these issues might inform our work as data scientists. To this end, we turn the focus of our “Data Science in the News” panel presentations to the following topic: “What can we learn from George Floyd’s death, and what role can data and data science play in this?”

The panel sessions will be co-organised by the QUT Centre for Data Science, QUT Carumba Institute and the Queensland Academy of Arts and Science. The aim is to bring together speakers to discuss this topic from a range of perspectives, with the aim of exploring how data and data science can contribute to meaningful conversations, decisions and changes as a result of this tragic event.

Our second session will include the following speakers:

  • Professor Peter Anderson, Executive Director of the QUT Carumba Institute and Director of the National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network (Moderator)
  • Professor David Lovell, Deputy Director of the QUT Centre for Data Science
  • Christopher Emzin, Senior Lecturer at QUT, Inspector of Police with over 35 years policing experience as a criminal investigator, prosecutor and legal advisor for the Queensland Police Service
  • Darren Clinch, Data Analytics Coordinator for the Indigenous Data Network, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Kate Devitt, Chief Scientist of Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence Cooperative Research Centre (TAS-DCRC)

More about the Panel Session Topics:

Professor David Lovell: “Why are we drawn to technology to tackle complex human issues? Why does it keep happening?”. Three weeks before George Floyd was killed, Harrisburg University gave a media release outlining the paper “A Deep Neural Network Model to Predict Criminality Using Image Processing”. Furore ensured. The news release was removed. The editor of the publication where it was scheduled to appear has decided to not publish the work. In this session of Data Science in the News, I want to consider why people are drawn to technology to tackle complex human issues.

Christopher Emzin: “Comparative Perspectives on Queensland – US Policing”

Darren Clinch: “Data and data science versus ‘fabric of society’ conditioning in an Indigenous Australian context”. How does mainstream media including social media change the intent of data, and how can data science change that? Why are more Australians taking notice of George Floyd and not Kumanjayi Walker or Joyce Clarke?

Dr Kate Devitt: “Good Data”. I will discuss citizens using data for social and political activism to assert non-violent democratic pressure on the polity. E.g. smart phone footage of demonstrations, distributed social media campaigns, evasion of state surveillance and public pressure on governments to be transparent with regards to how they collect and use citizen data to make decisions including policy and legislative actions.

More about the Panelists:

Professor Peter Anderson is the Executive Director of QUT’s Carumba Institute. He is also the Director of the National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network (NIRAKN). The Carumba Institute aims to transform both Indigenous research and Indigenous education. Central to his role are training and employment-enhancing initiatives and fostering engagement and partnerships that matter to Indigenous people and communities through the Institute.

Professor David Lovell is a Professor in the QUT’s School of Computer Science, Deputy Director of QUT’s Centre for Data Science, and leader of the Centre’s Data-Focused Decision-Making Program. David’s research interests lie at the intersection of humanity, science and technology, particularly data science. We humans are the ones who stand to benefit (or suffer) from systems that use data to make or inform decisions that affect our lives. David wants to ensure that science and technology are developed, designed and delivered with this in mind so that our world is better as a result.

Christopher Emzin is a Senior Lecturer at QUT. He is of Indigenous and South Sea Islander heritage. Christopher holds a Masters and a Bachelors Degree of Laws and has been admitted to practice law as a ‘Barrister-At-Law’. He is also an Inspector of Police with over 35 years policing experience as a criminal investigator, prosecutor and legal advisor for the Queensland Police Service. He has held a range of operational, policy and senior management positions within the QPS including senior roles within Internal Investigations Branch and Prosecutions Services. Chris is currently undertaking a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at QUT Faculty of Law. The thesis title is “Law Enforcement Policy & Practice impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Queensland.”

Darren Clinch is a Badimia man from Yamatji country in the mid-west of Western Australia, and is currently the Data Analytics Coordinator for the Indigenous Data Network, University of Melbourne. Prior to this Darren worked for the Department of Health and Human Services, State Government of Victoria, in a variety of roles which included several years as the program coordinator for the Improving Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Patients (ICAP) program. This role involved engaging with all levels of the Tertiary Care sector across Victoria to improve the cultural safety, and appropriateness of services to Aboriginal Victorians accessing hospitals and health services. Darren completed a Masters in Public Health through Deakin University and has also studied statistical programming through the Centre for Big Data Research, UniNSW. In Darren’s most recent role at DHHS, before moving to UniMelb, he was seconded into the System Intelligence and Analytics branch to provide Business Intelligence and Geo-spsatial support to a wide range of programs such as the Social Landlord Project, Community Service Investment, Safe Scripts program, and the North Richmond Health’s Medically Supervised Injecting Room. While in this role Darren contributed to the development of an Indigenous status algorithm to improve identification in linked data which required working with the Victorian Social Investment and Integrated Data Resource using tools such as SQL, R, Python and ArcGIS.

Dr Kate Devitt graduated from Melbourne University with BA(hons) history and philosophy of science and psychology. After working with Accenture on the CAMM2 Project for Defence she started her PhD at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Kate has used her expertise in cognitive science, epistemology and ethics to lead transdisciplinary teams building decision support tools for industry as well as co-founded a startup (mentored through MIT REAP). In 2018 she joined DST as a social and ethical robotics researcher and maintains a part time permanent position with DST two days a week alongside her role as Chief Scientist of the TASDCRC. Kate is currently assigned to ADF Covid-19 Task Force providing specialised advice regarding social and ethical aspects of data, technology and AI systems that may be considered, developed and employed as part of the Operation. She is Australia’s representative for the TTCP AI Strategic Challenge and is contributing to NATO and UN discussions regarding frameworks for human control of robotics and autonomous systems. Kate is leading the ’Trust and Safety’ chapter for Australia’s Robotics Roadmap (V.2). She is co-editor of Good Data (2019) with realistic methods on how data can be used to progress a fair and just digital economy and society. She is also a research fellow with the Co-Innovation Research Group at the University of Queensland, an inter-disciplinary research group crossing conventional boundaries comprising social robotics, interaction design, software engineering and human-computer interaction. Kate is passionate about how autonomous systems should be designed within the large sociotechnical systems within which they are built and deployed, particularly ethical, legal, and regulatory structures to achieve social license to operate and trusted adoption.



Webinar #7 – 19 June 2020, 12 noon to 1pm: “What can we learn from George Floyd’s death, and what role can data and data science play in this?”

Video is now online: (click on image below)

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis USA at the hands of police has been headline news worldwide, sparking discussions, demonstrations, reflections and statements. His death highlights many important issues and questions. It prompts us to reflect on the role that data and data analysis play in these issues and, in turn, how these issues might inform our work as data scientists. The aim is to bring together speakers to discuss this topic from a range of perspectives, with the aim of exploring how data and data science can contribute to meaningful conversations, decisions and changes as a result of this tragic event.

More about the Panel Session Topics:

Professor Peter Anderson: “The importance of cross-disciplinary research”

Bridget Hughes: “The collective impact of programs and services in Queensland”

Professor Robyn Mayes: “Narratives for change: intersections of stories and data”

This presentation explores the dynamics of abstract data, histories and personal stories in creating compelling narratives to educate for, and inspire, change. In doing so the presentation considers the interlinked dimensions of the private and the public, and of scales ranging from the local to the global.

Dr Nigel Stobbs: ” Systemic Bias in predictive policing and predictive risk algorithms”

This presentation will provide some context to the ongoing debate about whether it is possible to balance the potential benefits of algorithmic decision making in the criminal justice system, with the risks of racial and demographic bias. This is an increasingly hot issue given the ubiquity with which the technology is being relied on for decisions about the granting of bail and parole and in determining sentence. The latest research from the US suggests that a fair and workable balance could be struck, but that in practice this balance is often erased by police, judges and other legal actors who are either unwilling or unable to use the technology in accordance with mandated protocols.

Webinar #6 – 5 June 2020: Post COVID19

Video is now online: (click on image below)

Presentation slides from Ides Wong

Presentation slides from James McGree



  • Dr Ides Wong – COVID-19 Data Strategy Lead, Clinical Excellence Queensland, Queensland Health
  • Associate Professor James McGree – Research Program Leader, QUT Centre for Data Science and QUT School of Mathematics Science
  • Professor Marek Kowalkiewicz – Professor and Chair in Digital Economy, QUT
  • Ric Clarke – Director of Machine Learning and Novel Data Sources (MINDS), Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

More about the Panel Session Topics:

Dr Ides Wong – Never let a good crisis go to waste: harnessing the opportunities to further our digital health agenda

In the sea of fake-news and misinformation, the need to disseminate reliable and accurate data to inform planning, policies and the public is more important than ever. The traditional data collection, collation and reporting processes and time-frames have been challenged. At the same time, this presents us with the opportunities to highlight the need for streamlined data-processes and real-time reporting. Moving “at the speed of COVID”, the what changes constantly (often several times a day!), but the how is our constant. This talk is reflecting on the how, and looking to what’s to come.

Associate Professor James McGree – Introducing the COVID-19 Clinical Data Analytics Platform

The need for rapid access and utilisation of health data to inform patient care has been brought into especially sharp focus by the COVID-19 pandemic where patients have been treated in an information void. Through a recently funded Digital Health CRC project, we address this need by creating a national platform to collate and analyse COVID-19 patient data. In this talk, I will briefly outline the capabilities of this platform emphasising the analytic components including real-time predictions of need for hospitalisation/intensive care, and enabling Bayesian adaptive clinical trials to improve patient outcomes. To close the talk, post COVID-19 directions for the platform will be discussed.

Professor Marek Kowalkiewicz – The new economic agents

A new category of economic agents is emerging in our economy. Beyond people and organisations, now algorithms are also generating value and triggering consumption of goods and services. What does it mean for us? Why should we care?

Ric Clarke – Understanding the impact of COVID-19: New data sources, new Insights

Webinar #5 – 22 May 2020: The economic impact of COVID-19 and the likely short and long run economic impacts of the policy responses to it.

Video is now online: (click on image below)

Q & A from Webinar – these are questions that our panellists took time to answer that weren’t covered in the webinar.

Presentation slides from Pascalis Raimondos

Presentation slides from Danielle Wood



More about the Panel Session Topics:

Professor Tony Makin – COVID-19: The Macroeconomic Response, Recovery and Repercussions

The COVID-19 crisis has had a massive macroeconomic impact. How sound were the economic policy responses to it with reference to Australian and overseas experience? And how will Australian governments, federal and State, need to strengthen their economic reform agendas to cope with the virus’ threatening economic legacy?

Professor Pascalis Raimondos – The aftermath of COVID-19: are we in a global recession?

During GFC trade fall by 13% and was called the Great Trade Collapse. COVID-19 is currently predicted to create a 13%-32% drop in trade. Just as trade never rebounded to its pre-2009 levels, trade is likely to settle to an even smaller growth after this 2020 period. Such a drop will delay recovery around the world.

Danielle Wood – Managing the transition: fiscal policy in the recovery phase

The health response to COVID-19 has led to a swift and sharp contraction in the Australian economy. Incomes are being supported through significant fiscal measures including the JobSeeker and JobKeeper programs. What happens when these programs end? What is the best way to transition the economy? And how will we pay for it?

Gene Tunny – Short-run and long-run impacts of COVID-19 on Queensland’s regions

This presentation will provide an overview of the likely short-run and long-run impacts on Queensland’s diverse regional economies, including Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Gold Coast, and the Darling Downs, among others. Consideration will be given to how different industries, such as tourism/hospitality, agribusiness, and retail will be affected.

Webinar #4 – 8 May 2020: “Precedents for the Unprecedented: COVID-19 Historical Perspectives”

Video is now online: (click on image below)



  • Professor Alison Bashford, FBA, FAHA, FRHistS, FRSN – Professor of History and Director of the New Earth Histories Research Program, University of New South Wales. (Australia’s borders and disease protection in the past)
  • Professor Frank Bongiorno AM, FRHistS, FASSA, FAHA – Head, School of History, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University. (Pandemics, Australian History and COVID-19)
  • Emeritus Professor Philip Almond, FAHA – Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, The University of Queensland. (Is God’s existence compatible with the Plague?)
  • Dr Tom Aechtner – Senior Lecturer in Religion and Science, and Westpac Research Fellow, School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, The University of Queensland. (Vaccine Uptake Challenges: Distrust, Danger, and Confidence)

More about the Panel Session Topics:

Professor Alison Bashford – Australia’s borders and disease protection in the past

‘Unprecedented’ is a commonly used word in this coronavirus moment. But what is and isn’t different about this pandemic compared to others in Australia’s past? Medical historian, Professor Alison Bashford discusses responses to infectious diseases in Australian history. How has the continent fared in the past? What quarantine practices worked and what didn’t, on its various borders? How did Australians respond to government encouragement, and sometimes demand for isolation, at home or in coastal quarantine stations? Professor Bashford is especially interested in the maritime resonances between the current crisis and past epidemics. Stranded vessels, unable to dock, or turned into floating quarantine stations was a familiar phenomenon in the nineteenth century, but far less so in recent times.

Professor Frank Bongiorno – Pandemics, Australian History and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen an explosion of history talk: comparison with past plagues and pandemics, economic crises and depressions, major wars, and post-war reconstruction. History can offer insights into our circumstances. It can also mislead. Here, I’ll talk on these analogies in the context of Australian history in particular, suggesting that each needs to be treated with considerable caution in light of their radically different contexts. We are not witnessing a re-run of the Spanish Flu. We are not facing economic circumstances comparable with the crisis of the early 1930s. We are not at war. And while, on an optimistic reading, the other side of this pandemic may well provide opportunities for policy change, it would be unwise to underestimate the forces of resistance. Crises can generate rapid change, but they can also, as occurred in the 1950s, generate a powerful impulse to restore aspects of the status quo ante. History can illuminate these complexities. It can’t tell us what will happen next.

Emeritus Professor Philip Almond – Is God’s existence compatible with the Plague?

It’s not the end of the world. But with the Coronavirus running rampant, you could be forgiven for thinking so. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse symbolically portray the four events that will occur before the end of the world: plague, war, famine, and death. It is the first of these that is striking fear into hearts worldwide. But with the rhetoric of our being ‘at war’ with this disease, of ‘an invisible enemy, a high mortality rate, and increasing food shortages, all four horsemen appear to be riding out. How does God figure in all of this? Can any sense be made of the notion of divine providence – that all that happens in the universe is in accord with God’s plan – in the face of natural disasters? This talk looks at six different responses that have been given to these questions in the history of Western thought, including that of the agnostic and atheist.

Dr Tom Aechtner – Vaccine Uptake Challenges: Distrust, Danger, and Confidence

Australia maintains widespread support for immunisations, with most citizens reporting positive attitudes toward vaccines. Nevertheless, as in many other countries, a subset of the population expresses vaccine hesitancies, with apprehensions frequently linked to concerns about the safety and efficacy of vaccinations. Such hesitancies can pose challenges to keeping vaccine uptakes high, and they could also impact the receipt of a future COVID-19 vaccine. These fears can be stoked by small groups of vocal vaccine deniers who make antivaccine claims on the Internet, where many vaccine hesitant individuals go when seeking out immunisation facts. There are three overarching themes exhibited in such antivaccination media that tap into common vaccine hesitancies, which can be described as Distrust, Danger, and Confidence. This presentation briefly describes each of these central themes and relates how they may already be at play in the coronavirus pandemic.

Webinar #3 – 24 April 2020: “Data in the time of COVID-19: Is truth the first casualty?”

Video is now online: (click on image below)



  • Professor Paul Glasziou – Director, Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare; Faculty of Health Sciences & Medicine, Bond University.
  • Dr Dylan Flaws – Associate Professor – QUT; Head of Mental Health Research – Critical Care Research Group; Psychiatry Advanced Trainee – RBWH.
  • Professor Luke Connelly – Centre for the Business and Economics of Health (CBEH) and Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, The University of Queensland; Department of Sociology and Business Law, The University of Bologna.
  • Dr Cassandra Cross – Senior Research Fellow, Cybersecurity Cooperative Research Centre, Senior Lecturer, School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology.

More about the Panel Session Topics:

Professor Paul Glasziou – The epidemiology of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has grown from 27 cases on January 1st to over 2 Million cases in 210 countries by mid-April, with around 150,000 deaths. Many countries have now started to “flatten the curve”, and a few, such as Australia, have contained, but not eliminated, the epidemic – dropping from 400 new cases per day to around 40. The main strategies have been (1) test, contact trace, and track (2) international border control, and (3) social distancing measures. A vaccine is unlikely until 2021, and even then uncertain. So the key questions now are what we can do meanwhile to keep the “R” below or around 1, so that the epidemic does not re-emerge. That includes many unknowns such as the asymptomatic case rate, the duration of immunity, and the impacts of different degrees of distancing measures. The models used to inform policy make reasoned guesses at these inputs, but we urgently need research to provide better estimates to balance the need for public health intervention against the harms of lockdowns. What defines authoritative and trusted sources of epidemiological information will be discussed.

Dr Dylan Flaws – The impacts of COVID-19 on mental health: Where is the trusted information?

COVID-19 has had immediate and measurable effects on the mental health and well-being of our community. As the impacts of the pandemic continue, however, additional stressors relating to uncertainty, physical distancing and ongoing isolation are appearing. Accessing trusted information about the psychological consequences of COVID-19 and ways in which to minimise their effects is fraught, with spurious sources proposing ‘solutions’ – with little or no evidence as to their effectiveness. I will describe a process used to identify authoritative, trusted information relating to hospital staff well-being that may be impacted by the pandemic and then describe how I used this to develop an evidence-based service to meet that need. This information is broadly relevant/transferable to other workplaces and the general community.

Professor Luke Connelly – COVID-19: The Economics of Information, Risk and Uncertainty

Economists distinguish between risk and uncertainty. Risk refers to the chance of a random event occurring. Uncertainty refers to circumstances in which the chance of the event cannot be quantified. I shall discuss how both concepts are pertinent to some aspects of COVID-19 and its spread. Equally, information about the disease, its transmission and its effects is subject to a “quality uncertainty” problem. Information goods such as these may be ‘experience goods’ whose quality is impossible to judge immediately, but may become clearer with the passage of time. Alternatively, they may be ‘credence goods’, meaning that one will never be able to discern their quality completely but must consume them on trust. I shall show that these concepts are relevant to policy-related decisions about COVID-19 that may have serious health and economic consequences. Finally, individuals’ perceptions of the quality of the information they receive, along with their willingness to follow authorities’ advice (e.g., social distancing measures), may depend on their assessments of legitimacy – this is particularly so in the current COVID-19 context.

Dr Cassandra Cross – Fraud in the context of COVID-19

Fraud is premised upon lying and deception for financial advantage. While fraud is not new, technology has changed the way in which it is perpetrated and exponentially increased the number of potential victims globally. Offenders tend to tailor their approaches based on current events, and COVID-19 is no exception. This presentation summarises the techniques used by offenders to successfully defraud individuals, and highlights what to look out for in the current context of COVID-19.

Webinar #2 – 14 April 2020: What Data can tell us about COVID19

Other Web Resources:

Our panel members for this session are:

  • Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen – Director of the QUT Centre for Data Science and Fellow of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences. Kerrie will be the moderator.
  • Professor Adrian Barnett – Professor at the QUT School of Public Health and Social Work.
  • Professor Laurie Buys – Director of Healthy Ageing Initiative at UQ Faculty of Healthy and Behavioural Sciences.
  • Professor Lidia Morawska – Professor at the QUT School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Director of International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health and Co-Director of the Australia-China Centre for Air Quality Science and Management.
  • Associate Professor Richi Nayak – Program Leader of Applied Data Science at the QUT Centre for Data Science and internationally recognised expert in data mining and web intelligence.

More about the Panel Session Topics:

Professor Adrian Barnett – Using microsimulation to model COVID-19 infections including uncertainty.

Models of COVID-19 infections numbers over time often use mathematical equations to model the flow of people from healthy to infected and possibly to death. An alternative approach is to simulate the flow of people using micros-simulations of individuals. These are far more computer intensive but help to show the uncertainty in prediction numbers. They can also be easily adapted to incorporate individual characteristics, such as age and comorbidity.

Professor Laurie Buys – COVID-19: What has age got to do with it?

The COVID-19 has been promoted widely by the media and governments as a serious problem for people over 60 years, who purely by their age are at greater risk of serious illness and death. I will explore whether data supports the assertion that age is a key factor in death and whether the answer to that question matters to Australia.

Professor Lidia Morawska – Will Big Data help uncover the role of COVID-19 airborne transmission?

The role of long-range airborne transmission of COVID-19, versus close contact transmission, is one of the key questions the world asks, and has implications for managing the pandemic. After SARS1, retrospective modelling studies clearly pointed out the significance of this transmission route and aerosol science has provided evidence and explained the mechanism behind droplet formation from human expiratory activities. However, it is extremely difficult to conduct experimental studies on infectious droplets during the pandemic. Could the data on the locations, patterns, contacts, etc provide an answer?

Associate Professor Richi Nayak – Understanding the dynamics of social media conversation topics on COVID-19

Analysis of social media conversation on COVID-19 can provide many insights. Text mining techniques can be applied (1) to understand how the topics are distributed over time and space (location) and their popularity; (2) to understand emotion expressed in those topics (i.e. identifying positive and negative discussion); and (3) to identify triggers leading to a sudden peak in the discussion from topic distribution.

Webinar #1 – 27 March 2020: What Data can tell us about COVID19

Q & A from Webinar – these are questions that our panellists took time to answer that weren’t covered in the webinar.

Other web resources:

Our panel members for this session are:

  • Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen – Director of the QUT Centre for Data Science and Fellow of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • Professor Raja Jurdak – Professor of Distributed Systems and Chair in Applied Data Sciences at QUT.
  • Dr Char-lee Moyle – Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development (DITID) Innovation Metrics Mid-Career Research Fellow in the Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research at QUT.
  • Emeritus Professor Gerald Fitzgerald – Professor of Public Health at QUT and discipline leader of Health Management and Disaster Management.
  • Associate Professor Daniel Angus – Program Leader at the QUT Digital Media Research Centre.

More about the Panel

Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen. Professor Mengersen is the Director of the QUT Centre for Data Science, Fellow of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers. She is acknowledged to be one of the leading researchers in her discipline. She uses and develops new statistical and computational methods that can help to solve complex problems in the real work. She works with a diverse range of people doing outstanding things in many different areas, and making the best use of data to make better decisions.

Emeritus Professor Gerald Fitzgerald. Professor Fitzgerald is a Professor of Public Health at QUT and discipline leader of Health Management and Disaster Management. He served as Chief Health Office for Queensland for three years and in that role held a number of national leadership positions. He holds medical specialist medical qualifications in Emergency Medicine and Medical Administration and a Doctor of Medicine for a thesis entitled Emergency Department Triage Scale.

Dr Char-lee Moyle . Dr Moyle is a Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development (DITID) Innovation Metrics Mid-Career Research Fellow in the Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research at QUT. Char-lee has a PhD in Tourism Economics from the University of Queensland, for which she won multiple awards including the Emerald/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award, the 2012 UQ Dean’s Award for Research Higher Degree Excellence and the 2012 Best Paper Award from the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research. Her research has featured in various media outlets, including the Conversation, Brisbane Times, Sydney Morning Herald and GreenAir Online, amongst others.

Associate Professor Daniel Angus. Professor Angus is a Program Leader at the QUT Digital Media Research Centre. His research focuses on the development of visual computational analysis methods for communication data, with a specific focus on conversation data. His novel computational methods have improved our understanding of the nature of communication in medical consultations, conversations in aged care settings, television broadcast, social media, and newspaper reporting. Daniel has been involved in computer science research for 15 years and contributes regularly to media and industry on the impact of technology on society.

Professor Raja Jurdak. Professor Jurdak is a Professor of Distributed Systems and Chair in Applied Data Sciences at Queensland University of Technology. His work on the Disease Networks and Mobility (DiNeMo) Project explores how human infectious disease found overseas might spread in Australia and overseas, and how these movements can be predicted. His main research interest is around dynamic network modelling. Networks and network science provide powerful representation of physical and logical relationships to gain insights into a broad range of systems, from communication and cyber-physical systems and Internet of Things to individual and entity relationship networks and interactions to guide value-creating decisions.