Peggy O’Neal AO recipient of 2021 Outstanding Contribution to Victorian Sport Award

Published 22 May, 2022.

The most prestigious honour bestowed at the Victorian Sport Awards, the Outstanding Contribution to Victorian Sport Award is presented to an individual or organisation in recognition of outstanding achievement in, or contribution to, sport in Victoria.

The recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Contribution to Victorian Sport Award is current Richmond Football Club President and Chancellor of RMIT University, Peggy O’Neal AO.

Peggy moved to Melbourne in 1989 after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia. Specialising in superannuation and financial services law for more than 25 years, Peggy was a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills from 1995-2009 and is currently a consultant to Lander and Rogers.

In 2014, the Inquiry into ‘Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation’ was established by the Victorian Government and Peggy was appointed chair of the advisory panel. Determining practical actions that the sport and active recreation sector could adopt to enhance participation by women and girls and to increase their leadership and governance roles, the Inquiry also led to the creation of the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation, the first Office of its kind in Australia.

From 2017-2020, Peggy was a member of Victoria’s Ministerial Council on Women’s Equality and she has also served as convenor of the Change Our Game Champions program, a group of leaders within the Victoria sport and active recreation industry that influence change by sharing information and resources.

Discovering a love of the Richmond Football Club after moving to the suburb and attending her first AFL game, Peggy initially served as a player sponsor before helping to establish a business networking group in 2003, the Tommy Hafey Club. Two years later, she was elected to Richmond’s board, becoming the first woman director at Richmond and she continued to create history in 2013 when she became the first woman in AFL history to be elected a club president.

Her period as president has coincided with a renaissance for Richmond, ending a 37-year Premiership drought in 2017 before creating a dynasty with back-to-back Premierships in 2019 and 2020.

Appointed to the Australian Institute of Sport Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement Advisory Committee in June 2019, Peggy also serves as a member of the AFL's Competition Committee and for the past two years has been a member of the AFL’s Mental Health Steering Committee.

The Hon. Ros Spence, Minister for Community Sport says:

“Peggy is a thoroughly deserving winner who has been a major part of Richmond Football Club’s success on and off the field in recent years as well as the development of the Club’s community programs.

“She has also been a champion of women’s sport, was a strong supporter of the Victorian Government’s decision to establish the ground-breaking Office for Women in Sport and Recreation in 2017 and the Change Our Game initiatives.”

Vicsport CEO Lisa Hasker says:

“It is very exciting to see Peggy rewarded for her impact in sport and the Outstanding Contribution to Sport Award is a fitting accolade for her commitment to sport in our state. Championing work in women’s equality as well as professional and elite sport, Peggy’s leadership has guided many sporting organisations, committees and panels to achieve ground-breaking work.”

A non-executive director of several companies in the superannuation and financial services sectors, Peggy is currently the chair of Vanguard Superannuation and is also a director of Infrastructure Specialist Asset Management. She is on the board of Australia Dementia Network Limited, Fulbright Australia and Women’s Housing Limited and was a director of VicHealth from January 2020 until January 2022. Peggy is also co-chair of the Victorian chapter of the Minerva Network which develops mentorships between leading Australian businesswomen and elite women athletes.

A Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Peggy was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by Swinburne University in 2018. The following June, she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of her service to football, superannuation and finance law and for the advancement of women in leadership roles.

Peggy’s latest accolade came in November 2021 when she was named Melburnian of the Year for her leadership and the inspiration she gives to others through her work at Richmond and in tackling womens’ homelessness and mental health. She then became Chancellor of RMIT University on 1 January, 2022.

Peggy O’Neal will be presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Victorian Sport Award at the 2021 Victorian Sport Awards on Wednesday 15 June.

Tickets are now on sale for the 2021 Victorian Sport Awards and can be purchased via the Vicsport website, email or on (03) 9698 8100.

Event details:
Wednesday 15 June, 2022
CENTREPIECE at Melbourne Park

Finalists in the 19 nominated categories of the 2021 Victorian Sport Awards were announced on 27 April and can be found here.

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