The massive but, happily, largely benign earthquake off the coast of Sumatra on Wednesday left millions of people in Aceh reliving the nightmare the engulfed them on Boxing Day 2004, when a similarly large but different type of earthquake sent a wall of water across the lowlands, killing around 180,000 people.
That the earthquake and fear of another massive tsunami came just two days after a local elections and a major political upheaval only added poignancy to the otherwise frightening occasion. In the wake of the 2004 tsunami, Aceh separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) reached a peace agreement with the government in Jakarta, ushering in a period not just of rebuilding but of relative peace and electoral politics.
Contrary to such opinion that exists on Aceh, the peace agreement was not a consequence of the tsunami as such. Rather, and agreement to start peace talks had been reached just days before the tsunami struck.
Indonesia’s province of Aceh goes to the polls on Monday, in what has been a bitterly contested election for the position of governor. In Indonesia’s other provinces the position of governor is important but, in the autonomous province of Aceh, following a three decade long separatist war, it is critical.
As a result of the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami, Aceh was also the site of the world’s largest ever emergency relief program, at $9 billion. The tsunami devastated large areas of the heavily populated coastal regions of Aceh, leaving around 170,000 dead and missing.
There is currently no state government funding mechanism to support and sustain community crime prevention in Victoria. Given the available evidence shows that preventing youth volence and crime is a good investment, I call on the Victorian state government to set up funding mechanisms to support community crime prevention.
Recent reports have raised concern at rising rates of youth violence in Australia. Research recently completed by my team as part of the large cross-national International Youth Development Study (N=4,000) clarifies rates and determining influences for youth violence. For males in Victoria aged 14-15 in 2003 18% reported at least one episode of violence in the previous year (defined as attacking or beating another). These rates were significantly higher relative to a matched sample from Washington State in the USA (13%). The study revealed many of the influencing factors to be preventable.