August 22, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier | Image: An Australian cyclist participating in the last Commonwealth Games held in Australia on the Gold Coast in 2018

The board to oversee the organising committee for Victoria’s regional Commonwealth Games delivery in 2026 is female-led, with women also taking on the majority of positions.

The board will be chaired by Peggy O’Neal AO, current president of Richmond Football Club, and the first female president in the history of the AFL.

“I am delighted to be part of the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games and to work with the board, to ensure that the diverse voices in our state are heard as we make decisions throughout the delivery of the Games,” said O’Neal.

“Peggy has made a significant contribution to the Victorian community through gender equality and developing female leaders in sport – we’re excited to bring her leadership to the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games,” said Victoria’s minister for Commonwealth Games legacy Shaun Leane.

Other members of the board include Belinda Duarte, a Wotjobaluk, Dja Dja Wurrung descendant, who grew in Ballarat, one of the regional Victorian hubs for the Games, who heads an organisation seeking to strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people’s connection to culture, country and community. Duarte also holds several sports leadership roles in Victoria including director of the Western Bulldogs AFL team and Melbourne Cricket Ground trustee.

Also on the board is Lisa Gray, who has had a comprehensive career in the private and public sectors, including leadership roles with MLC Limited, National Australia Bank, Invest Victoria and the Victoria Funds Management Corporation, the state’s investment manager.

Other board members have been drawn from Commonwealth Games organisations, including Dame Louise Martin DBE, and Katie Sadleir, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation respectively, and Ben Houston and Craig Phillips, president and CEO of Commonwealth Games Australia respectively.

The Commonwealth Games organising committee itself is being headed up by Jeroen Weimar who, as Victoria’s COVID-19 response commander during last year’s Delta wave, gained a significant public profile in the state and around Australia.

The regional Games are expected to deliver more than $3 billion in benefit for Victoria and create the equivalent of 600 full time jobs prior to the event, and thousands of jobs during and after it.