Aust govt urged to make black lives matter

Leaders from America's Black Lives Matter network fear things won't improve for Australia's indigenous people until the country's political leaders change their approach.

Black Lives Matter founders Patrice Cullors and Rodney Diverlus have won the Sydney Peace Prize.

Black Lives Matter founders Patrice Cullors and Rodney Diverlus have won the Sydney Peace Prize.

BLM founder Patrisse Cullors and the head of the movement's Toronto chapter Rodney Diverlus are in Australia to accept the prestigious Sydney Peace Prize and have spent the past week meeting indigenous groups.

They say they've been saddened to hear about the extent of indigenous incarcerations, deaths in custody, and the huge gaps in terms of healthcare, education and employment with the rest of Australia's population.

They've also been disheartened by the federal government's controversial decision to block plans for an advisory body to give indigenous people a voice in parliament.

Ms Cullors likens the decision to others made in the US, Canada and UK, where she says countless recommendations designed to improve the lives of black communities have been ignored.

"The question is often what is it going to take to stop some of the most egregious things happening in our communities and part of it is that governments have to step up and make better choices," Ms Cullors told AAP on Thursday.

"When indigenous people are saying these are the things we need they should be saying, 'yes, we will be implementing those things'.

"We can rise up all we want, we will be able to change things incrementally, but we need a change in the way governments respond to us."

Black Lives Matter grew from a hashtag posted by Ms Cullors in 2013 in anger at the acquittal of neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman after he fatally shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.

She along with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi turned it into a movement focused on protesting against police violence towards black people and other injustices, with 40 chapters across the US, Canada and Britain.

However, there has been some backlash, with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani accusing the movement of being "inherently racist" while US President Donald Trump claims its "looking for trouble".

Ms Cullors said she and her co-founders weren't expecting such criticism when they started out, and warns that if indigenous Australians want to join the movement they should be prepared for the same.

But Ms Cullors and Mr Diverlus say there's a thirst among indigenous Australians to develop closer ties with their network and help build "a global black family and a global black resurgence".

"It's weighed on us a lot to be hearing about what is happening to indigenous people," Mr Diverlus said.

"It's an international tragedy and requires an international intervention and that's what we hope to participate in."

Ms Cullors and Mr Diverlus will accept the Sydney Peace Prize on behalf of Black Lives Matter on Thursday night.

It is the first time the international honour has been awarded to an organisation, with past recipients including South African anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Ireland's former president and ex UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson.

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