Thousands of people have held a memorial in Indonesia’s Aceh province, the epicentre of the Indian Ocean tsunami, as the world prepares to mark a decade since a disaster that took 220,000 lives and laid waste to coasts in 14 countries.
On December 26, 2004 a 9.3-magnitude earthquake off Indonesia’s western coast sparked a series of towering waves that wrought destruction across countries as far apart as Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Somalia.
Among the victims were thousands of foreign holidaymakers enjoying Christmas on the region’s sun-kissed beaches, striking tragedy into homes around the world.
Muslim clerics, tsunami survivors and rescue workers led around 7000 mourners gathered at Banda Aceh’s black-domed Baiturrahman Grand Mosque for memorial prayers late on Thursday.
Aceh governor Zaini Abdullah thanked Indonesians and the international community in his address at the mosque, one of the few buildings which withstood the wrath of the massive earthquake and ensuing waves which left 170,000 people in the country dead or missing.
“The tsunami had caused deep sorrow to Aceh residents from having lost their loved ones,” he said.
“Sympathy from Indonesians and the international community has helped (Aceh) to recover,” he added.
He also called on residents not to “dwell in our grief, so that we could rise from adversity and achieve a better Aceh”.
In Meulaboh, a fishing town considered to be the ground zero of the tsunami — where 35 metre-high waves flattened almost everything — Indonesian flags were flown at half-mast as small groups of residents held night prayers at mosques.
The main memorials were planned for Friday morning, starting in Aceh which was hit first by the waves, then moving to Thailand where candlelit ceremonies are expected in the resort hubs of Phuket and Khao Lak.
Many of the tsunami’s victims died in dark, churning waters laden with uprooted trees, boats, cars and eviscerated beach bungalows, as the waves surged miles inland and then retreated, sucking many more into the sea.
The world poured money and expertise into the relief and reconstruction, with more than $US13.5 billion collected in the months after the disaster.
Almost $US7 billion in aid went into rebuilding more than 140,000 houses across Aceh, thousands of kilometres of roads, and new schools and hospitals.
The vast majority of Indonesia’s 170,000 victims perished in the province, among them tens of thousands of children.
But the disaster also ended a decades-long separatist conflict, with a peace deal between rebels and Jakarta struck less than a year later.
It also prompted the establishment of a pan-ocean tsunami warning system, made up of sea gauges and buoys, while individual countries have invested heavily in disaster preparedness.
Buddhist and Christians in Aceh province also remembered victims 10 years after the tsunami.
Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
Thousands of people are expected to send off yachts for the 70th consecutive year on Sydney’s harbour foreshore.
For a list of best vantage points to see the start of the annual race, click here.
The race will start at 1pm. Follow the latest developments here, with updates from our embedded reporter Nick Vindin.
Boxing Day sales
Keen to nab yourself a bargain? If you’re in for some retail therapy, this is the day for the post-Christmas shopping frenzy.
Retailers are expecting to take in more than $16 billion over the next three weeks, including $2 billion on Boxing Day alone.
Aussie captain Steve Smith. (AAP)
Boxing Day Test
From the first ever Test match in 1950 until now, cricket fans know there’s no better way to enjoy a summer’s day after the exhaustion of Christmas than watching one of Australia’s most popular sporting events.
This year’s test will see Australia take on India at the spiritual home of Australian cricket, the MCG from December 26-30.
Catch the latest flicks on the big screen
Who doesn’t love going to the pictures on Boxing Day?
From Peter Jackson’s third and final instalment of The Hobbit, Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner, a modern day retelling of Annie or the comedy-drama starring Bill Murray, there’s bound to a genre for every cinephile young and old. Check your local cinema for session times.
Do nothing … or as little as possible
If you’re still recovering from your food coma as a result of your epic feasting, or nursing a hangover from all the merriment (if that’s you, check out these hangover cures) here’s a list of things you can do for free or with minimal effort:
1. Go to the beach, or do something outdoorsy
While the rest of the world (well, Northern hemisphere really) is in the midst of a cold and wintry (white) Christmas, Aussies are lucky the holiday season coincides with summer. So go on, head outside and get some vitamin D. Your endorphins will love you for it.
2. ‘Tis the season to be watching
Binge on your favourite shows, docos or podcasts from the comfort of your couch.
People say we’re going through a “golden age for television” or if you’re wondering why your colleagues are raving about Sarah Koenig’s Serial, there’s A LOT of quality and “edutaining” (yes, educational and entertaining) content to catch up on from 2014.
Not to mention SBS On Demand has 400 free movies which you can stream anytime here. Need more convincing? Here’s twelve reasons why children should watch films at Christmas.
3. Kick back and get through your #longreads
If all else fails, there’s nothing more relaxing than unwinding with your favourite beverage (iced tea anyone?), curled up in that comfy spot, engrossed in a really good book or article.
Start your summer reading today with a look back at the best stories from SBS or some of these recommendations:
Have you got a brilliant suggestion? Tell us what you’re up to in the comments below.
THE 26 AUSTRALIANS LOST IN THE 2004 INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI:
Melina Heppell, six months old, swept from her dad Peter’s arms on Patong Beach, Thailand
2. Queensland man Philip Neame, 54, died at Patong Beach
3. Paul Giardina, 16, became separated from his Melbourne parents Joe and Ivana at the Seaview Hotel, Patong Beach
4. Three year old girl from NSW, Sascha Srikaow
5. Barry Anstee, 52, of Brisbane, who was only hours into a holiday with his wife Susan, who survived
6. Permanent resident of WA, Catherina van Duren, 81, on her annual holiday to Phuket
7. Brian Clayton, 58 from Brisbane. The construction industry worker was holidaying in Phuket with wife Patsy, who was able to scamble to safety
8. Craig Baxter, 37, a New Zealand-born Queensland resident, died while saving his Thai wife, Maliwan, 28, knowing she couldn’t swim
9. Jim Sparrow, 68, of Perth. Patong
10. Melbourne AFL player Troy Broadbridge, 24, was swept away from his new wife Trisha while honeymooning on Phi Phi island
11. Dinah Fryer, 50, of Adelaide. Was on her first overseas trip in Phuket with her husband of 18 years, Chris, and their teenage daughters Louise and Michelle
12. Yumi Kloot, 32, Japanese national of the Gold Coast, was holidaying with her Australian husband Damien on Phi Phi Island
13. Moi Vogel, 32, was on her honeymoon and had called home on Christmas Day to tell family she was pregnant
14. Her husband Christian Nott, 34, a freelance photographer of Sydney. Both died in Khao Lok
15. South African born Nikola Liebowitz, 30, was holidaying in Phi Phi island and then planned to settle in Sydney
16. Her boyfriend, South African born Avadya Berman, 31
17. Queenslander John Dimmock, 49, who operated a business called Aussie Bungalows north of Khao Lak
18. Mr Dimmock’s Thai born wife Pranom Dimmock
19. Susan Oliver, 30, from regional NSW, who had just finished a stint as a young ambassador in Vietnam and was holidaying on Phi Phi Island on her way home to Australia
20. North Queensland school teacher Kym Walsh, 39, separated from her husband Ian, who survived, at a resort near Phuket
21. Sydney woman Katherine Glinsky, 35, the aunt of three-year-old Sascha Srikaow, both were walking on the beach at Phi Phi
22. Caroline Rosso, 25, of Brisbane, an adviser to former Queensland minister Tony McGrady, was killed within 30 minutes of her arrival at the popular Thai resort of Khao Lak
23. The last Australian victim was officially identified in Phuket on Friday 19 August, 2005. The man was a 50-year-old Australian citizen living in Phuket
24. Adelaide man Sujeewa Kamalasuriya, 39, a dual citizen of Sri Lanka was snorkelling with friend and business partner Sarah Roberts, 31, when disaster struck.
25. NSW woman Barathy Balasingham, a 30-year-old female permanent resident
26. Magdalene Balachandra, 61, of Canberra, in a mini-van that was struck by a wave. She was in Sri Lanka with her husband Bernard and daughter Asha for a family reunion.
Source: AAP archives, takes into account the DFAT tally as well as confirmations by relatives.
Robyn Turner has suffered three years of nightmares since the savage murder of her brother, whose body was found stuffed in a cupboard in a Sydney unit block.
Rodney Scarman, 52, was savagely beaten to death and found inside an electrical cupboard in Waterloo about 4.30am on Boxing Day, 2011.
The murder resulted from a drug transaction gone wrong, police say.
Now, the family have again appealed for information about his death.
“It’s torturing to my mind, emotionally it’s agonising,” an emotional Ms Turner told reporters on Friday.
“I hope one day we have some closure to move on.”
An autopsy showed he had suffered significant injuries to most of his body.
Mr Scarman had been dumped in a communal area of the Walker Street unit block.
He was last seen a few hours earlier in an agitated state on nearby streets.
“Christmas isn’t the same for us anymore,” Ms Turner said in Sydney as her children Kaly and Beau stood by for support.
She held Mr Scarman’s funeral card while remembering her gentle, quiet and artistic brother.
“It’s difficult to sleep, nightmares, wondering who’s out there and if they might do this somebody else,” she said.
“I am pleading with people to look into their conscience and have the courage to come forward.”
Superintendent Luke Freudentstein said fear or misguided loyalty was holding people back from giving information.
Police were confident people in the Redfern community had knowledge of what happened that night.
“I’m pleading for the sake of the family…and for justice,” he said.
“In an undignified manner he was stuffed in a cupboard.
“Imagine if it was your family.”
It’s believed the attack was not targeted, he said, but related to a drug transaction gone wrong.
Police will accompany the Turner family while they letterbox drop flyers with their plea on Friday.
Katrina Dawson has been remembered for her enormous intellect and achievement, but most of all her devotion to family.
More than 1000 people farewelled the 38-year-old Sydney siege victim at a memorial service at the University of Sydney on Tuesday.
“My mummy is in heaven and heaven is in my heart, so mummy will always be with me,” her son Ollie’s words of mourning were relayed to those gathered.
“I love you mummy.
“I am sad that you died.”
A slide show played photos of Ms Dawson with her family and friends while a video showed her dancing to Pharrell’s Happy with the children.
Sasha, 4, Ollie, 6, and Chloe, 8, chose three songs for the service, intended as a celebration of Ms Dawson’s life.
“Please don’t forget her,” mother Jane said.
Husband Paul Smith said that even though she wasn’t religious, he could still feel her presence.
“There may not be a God or heaven, but you are still here with us,” he said.
Always a high achiever, Ms Dawson topped the state in the HSC with a 100 TER, won numerous scholarships and excelled as a barrister.
But it was her love of others that was remembered most in the hall awash with aqua lights and outfits, Ms Dawson’s favourite colour.
“(She) made me want to be a wife and mother,” said pregnant friend Julie Taylor, who was also a hostage in the 16-hour Lindt Cafe siege last week.
Tears flowed while Ms Taylor read a poem from Ms Dawson to her husband on their wedding day.
“I want to laugh with your joy, to cry with your tears, to ache with your pain, and mostly just to be there for you and there with you, living our lives together,” Ms Dawson wrote.
The mother-of-three enjoyed baking cakes, dressing up for parties and social sports.
She was fluent in French, a qualified ski instructor and Pictionary master.
In a holiday prank, Ms Dawson’s language skills got her brother Sandy in trouble when he told an Italian woman at the Post Office she had beautiful breasts, instead of asking for stamps.
Former NSW Governor Quentin Bryce said Ms Dawson’s life was inspiring.
“I observed her sensitive to those affected by disadvantage,” Dame Quentin said of their time together in the Women’s College at the university.
Dame Quentin is the founding member of the Katrina Dawson Foundation, aimed at helping educate women.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his wife Margaret attended the service along with siege survivor John O’Brien.
One heart-wrenching note stood out among the thousands of tributes at Martin Place.
“Love you mum. Love Sasha,” it read.
Barrister and mother-of-three Katrina Dawson died along with Lindt cafe manager Tori Johnson and gunman Man Haron Monis after the dramatic Sydney siege ended on Tuesday morning.
Four members of the Dawson family slowly made their way around the enormous Martin Place memorial on Thursday, painstakingly reading cards, taking photos and embracing each other.
The two men and two women became visibly upset when they discovered a colourful drawing clearly done by a young hand.
It depicted two figures with yellow-blonde hair, one tall and all pink, and the other in a blue dress with brown arms and pink legs.
Ms Dawson’s three children are under 10, with Sasha set to start school next year at Ascham in Sydney’s east.
Thousands of people flowed into the makeshift memorial site carrying flowers and tributes on Thursday, the third day since the end of the 16-hour ordeal.
A new section had to be added to accommodate the growing sea of flowers.
Mosman collar bomb victim Madeleine Pulver and her mother, Belinda, made a tearful visit to the shrine.
Senator Jacqui Lambie said Tasmanians, who were still “heartbroken” by the Port Arthur massacre nearly 20 years ago, were mourning with Sydneysiders.
“We know what’s it’s like,” she told AAP in Martin Place.
“It affects the whole nation.
“The last few days in Tasmania, it’s been a very harsh reminder and a reality check for us.”
Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs said the incident raised questions over the granting of bail, access to firearms and mental health.
“How do we get these balances right in times of terror?” Professor Triggs asked while paying her respects.
Pakistani consul-general Abdul Aziz also laid flowers, expressing solidarity with the victims after his nation suffered a devastating school attack that killed at least 140 people.
Australian retailers want items bought from overseas websites for as little as one cent to be subject to the GST.
New Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the federal government will consider whether to apply the tax to such low-value purchases as part of its white paper process in the new year.
Goods purchased online worth less than $1000 are currently not subject to the 10 per cent GST.
Local retailers, many of whom have online sales sites, complain it’s unfair because the loophole gives overseas retailers a price advantage.
Australian Retailers Association head Russell Zimmerman said the current GST-free threshold has “done nothing but damage our retail sector” and would like to see it scrapped altogether.
“I think it’s vital that the government does something on this very quickly,” he said on Friday.
“The threshold should be at least $30, but preferably down to zero.
“If it was brought down to zero, obviously all the books that come into Australia would be captured.
“But we’ve got some great online and bricks and mortar retailers.”
Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes welcomed the planned review, claiming current regulations are only serving to boost job numbers overseas – not locally.
Australia’s largest department store collects more than $300 million in GST every year, plus corporate tax.
“The problem is, we’re competing against people throughout the world that aren’t paying that level of GST and tax,” Mr Brookes told AAP.
“There’s no extra money in it for us if the GST is on or off – the reality is it goes to the government.
“And if the government is struggling to be able to balance things, then there’s a $1 billion in potential income through being able to put the GST online.
“The government at the moment are doing a really good job creating jobs – but they’re creating jobs in Birmingham, England, they’re creating jobs in Los Angeles, they’re creating jobs in China.
“They’re not creating jobs in Australia because of the free kick they give all these people.”
Woolworths says it is normal practice to audit invoices amid claims it is billing suppliers for accounting mistakes more than five years old.
Australia’s largest supermarket chain is accused of billing suppliers for the old mistakes and deducting money it claims it’s owed from their accounts without permission.
Suppliers are receiving bills, claiming they have charged the supermarket the wrong amount or supplied an incorrect quantity of a product, in a bid by Woolworths to recoup tens of millions of dollars from them by the month’s end, Fairfax Media reports.
“I have received an invoice for thousands of dollars dating back from 2010,” one unnamed supplier told The Age newspaper.
Woolworths says it is usual practice to audit its invoices, just like most companies, and it has done so for some time.
“Where we find an error, in our favour or the supplier’s favour, we take steps to recover or return the money owed,” a company spokesman said on Friday.
The revelations come after Coles was on Monday ordered to pay $11.25 million in fines and costs in a settlement with the competition watchdog over charges of unconscionable conduct in its treatment of grocery suppliers.
The Federal Court found the nation’s second largest supermarket chain deliberately and illegally misused its market power to squeeze small suppliers for money.
The court verdict was welcomed by the Australian Food and Grocery Council, which has also warned its members about Woolworths seeking to recoup money for “profit gaps”, although it is not facing any charges.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says it has received complaints about supermarket supplier issues in relation to Woolworths.
“We have received complaints about supermarket supplier issues which we will consider,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement on Friday.
Mr Sims said suppliers or others who want to provide information to the ACCC should contact the organisation and talk to the senior manager involved in supermarket supplier investigations.
BMC Racing Team have vowed to do all they can to ensure Cadel Evans shines in his farewell WorldTour race at the Tour Down Under next month.
They have named a strong line-up including experienced Swiss riders Michael Schar and Danilo Wyss, Australian star Rohan Dennis and newcomer Campbell Flakemore who is the world under 23 time trial champion.
Team director Fabio Baldato said they were determined to give their 2011 Tour de France champion Evans a fitting farewell before his home fans.
“The team will be working hard for Cadel to support him to do his best,” said Baldato.
“The course will be challenging but I think he can perform well just one more time.”
Former Swiss national road champion Schar will bring his Grand Tour experience to Adelaide, having competed at all three grand tours including helping Evans to his Tour de France triumph three years ago.
Wyss first rode in Adelaide in 2010 and since then has completed seven Grand Tours, including the Giro d’Italia for the last five years.
Dennis will take to the start line for the fourth time in his hometown Adelaide, having won both the King of the Mountain and Young Rider classifications in 2012.
“I am fortunate to be racing alongside Cadel, working for him and the team as well as learning from him how he handles the pressure both on and off the bike before he hangs up the bike from WorldTour racing,” said Dennis.
Every time I compete at this race, it is a special event for not just me but for all Australians. It is bigger and bigger every year.
“Being on Willunga Hill is as close as most Australians will ever get to experience what it is really like, the crowds, the atmosphere on a Tour de France mountain finish.”
Young Tasmanian talent Flakemore will make his WorldTour debut at the event.
“Cadel Evans is massive in Australia and to be a part of his team at his last WorldTour race is really exciting, I am just looking forward to being a part of the whole show,” said Campbell.
The BMC Racing Team: Cadel Evans (Aus), Michael Schar (Swi), Peter Stetina (USA), Danilo Wyss (Swi), Silvan Dillier (Swi), Campbell Flakemore (Aus) and Rohan Dennis (Aus).
The Tour Down Under will be staged in and around Adelaide From January 17-25.
Carol Earl isn’t content with running her own personal training business and a busy home life with husband Wayne and their three kids.
After 25 Thai Boxing bouts she’s serious about starting a professional career and has even got a former Australian champion in her corner.
“Everyone knows who I am now because of my veil and I guess being unique is good.”
“The skill of just one punch that Nader Hamden taught me did wonders and I’m looking forward to the gruelling training he’s going to put me through,” Ms Earle told SBS.
She was brought up in a Muslim household but it was once she met her husband Wayne that her faith in Islam deepened.
Wayne converted to the religion and three children later he’s now helping his wife pursue her dreams in the sport he persuaded her to take up.
“She inspires a lot of women, not just Muslim women but women all over Australia so the inspiration she gives people is something to be proud of,” he said.
After so many fights wearing the Hijab, the head covering is like part of her own skin and she says the fact so few female fighters wear one has actually helped her career.
“Everyone knows who I am now because of my veil and I guess being unique is good.”
While women’s boxing is now an Olympic sport, some people still feel it’s not right for women to trade punches. That’s what trainer Nader Hamden thought until he met Carol.
“She puts in as much as any guy puts in. So if she’s willing to keep doing that I’ll train her,” the man who won 43 of his 54 professional fights told SBS.
Husband Wayne was also a Thai Boxer, and it was with his encouragement that Carol decided to take it up.
Their three children have seen many of her fights, but only after Ms Earl realised how excited, proud and happy they were to see their mum in the ring doing what she loves.
And she’d encourage any women around the country to try putting on the boxing gloves.
“If there’s anyone out there wanting to do it, just go out and do it because it’s probably the best thing they’ll ever do.”
Ms Earl is hoping to have her first professional boxing bout in March.
“If there’s anyone out there wanting to do it, just go out and do it because it’s probably the best thing they’ll ever do.”