When one thinks of Australian history, the First fleet and white settlers conquering the bush spring to mind and are infamous features when imagining Australia’s past.
However Indigenous Australians and genocide always seems to slip everyone’s mind. Indigenous Australia’s and their place in history is contested ground, as how they fit into Australia’s past is part of a debate. Historical literature identifies the concept of genocide as being part of Australian history that has challenged the popular understanding of the past. One main source of debate on whether genocide has a rightful place in Australian history is whether or not the Commonwealth and State governments intended policies to result in genocide. Did they or didn’t they intend to eliminate the Aboriginal race?
Based on the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (Genocide Convention) of 1948, Article II defines genocide as a commitment with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, through acts including ‘forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.  The Stolen Generation, which involved the forcible removal of aboriginal children, is under this definition an act of genocide.
Intent is difficult to prove since there is a popular social mindset that rejects the idea of genocide being recognised as part of Australian history. Historian Dirk Moses calls this the ‘Gorgon effect’, which refers to the willing blindness of society towards acts of hate, violence and onslaught such as the act of genocide.
This relaxed conscience towards the genocidal treatment of Aboriginals is embedded in Australia’s social psyche since white settlement. A letter by William Hobbs to E. Danny. Day, the magistrate at Muswellbrook on the 9th of June 1838 is evidence of such a psyche. The letter provided an account of the Myall Massacre, to which Hobbs stated “ I should have given information earlier, but circumstances having prevented my sooner coming down the country”. This culture of viewing frontier violence as natural causes contemporary society to forget or ignore the significance of the Myall Massacre. This indicates that intent of genocide is difficult to prove as contemporary society has inherited this conscious that cannot view frontier violence as acts of genocide.
The argument that the crime of genocide against Aboriginals cannot be officially recognised is based on the view that policies did not intentionally result in genocide. This argument is flawed as Article III of the Genocide Convention states that ‘genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempts to commit genocide and complicity in genocide to be punishable offences.’
Article III strengthens the historical argument that no intent, does not mean genocide did not occur. Genocide was an effect of assimilation and protection policies.
Historian D.C Watt wrote, “what distinguishes murder from manslaughter and accidental death is the motive of the killer. This is equally true for genocide.”Henry Reynolds addresses the issue of whether or not significant numbers of settlers sought the total destruction of the Aboriginal race. Reynolds states ‘it is impossible to determine what percentage of the colonists advocated the deliberate extermination of the blacks.’
Were Indigenous Australians solely targeted due to their aboriginality?
It is this ambiguity that disenables a social consciousness to grasp the concept that genocide occurred in Australia. An article published in The Sydney Morning Herald, written by Henderson in relation to the removal of children as an act of genocide stated that this “was contrary to the everyday meaning of genocide, which connotes a wilful attempt to murder whole people.” The article also reveals a focus on compensation, which identifies government reluctance to truly face genocide and Australia history.
It must be remember that genocide involves the ‘whole’ and ‘in part’ destruction of a group.
Historian Colin Tatz identifies that an exploration into the intent of genocide is difficult as politics advocates that genocide is an inapplicable action of Australia’s past. This is evident in the Federal governments apology for the mistreatment to the Aboriginals by past governments, as it did not include to word genocide.
When asked why the term genocide was not used in the Australian Federal Government apology to the Stolen Generation, Kevin Rudd stated that genocide ‘has a specific definition in international law and I don’t believe [it’ is either appropriate or helpful in describing the event [s] as they occurred or … in taking the country forward.’
Can a nation move forward, when Australia’s governments ignores a main event such as genocide and the issue of intent?
Indigenous Australians history including genocide cannot remain socially forgotten and ignored in politics. Whether or not genocide was an intended result of past governments does not diminish the fact that genocide is apart of Australian history.
 Moses A Dirk. “Genocide and settler society in Australian history”: frontier violence and stolen indigenous children in Australian history. Edited by Dirk A Moses. New York: Berghahn Books. 2004, pp23
 Moses A Dirk. “Genocide and settler society in Australian history”: frontier violence and stolen indigenous children in Australian history. Edited by Dirk A Moses. New York: Berghahn Books. 2004, pp3
 Blanch Russ. Massacre: Myall Creek Revisited. Delungra New South Wales: Grah Jean Books. 2000, pp61
 Behrendt, Larissa. “Genocide, the distance between law and life”. Aboriginal History, v.25 (2001) http://search.informit.com.au/fullText;dn=200211168;res=APAFT pp134
 Reynolds Henry. “Genocide in Tasmania?” in Genocide and settler society: frontier violence and stolen indigenous children in Australian history, edited by Dirk A Moses. New York: Berghahan Books. 2004, pp128
 Reynolds Henry. “Genocide in Tasmania?” in Genocide and settler society: frontier violence and stolen indigenous children in Australian history, edited by Dirk A Moses. New York: Berghahan Books. 2004, pp54
 Reynolds Henry. “Genocide in Tasmania?” in Genocide and settler society: frontier violence and stolen indigenous children in Australian history, edited by Dirk A Moses. New York: Berghahan Books. 2004,p.55
 Henderson Gerald. “Middle ground may be hard to find.” The Sydney Morning Herald, January 15, 2008.pp9
 Cassidy, Julie. “Unhelpful and Inappropriate?: The Question of Genocide and the Stolen Generations”. Australian Indigenous Law Review, Vol. 13, No. 1 (2009) http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=250582865284428;res=IELHSS pp114