Human rights and international law expert Professor Hilary Charlesworth, says that Australia's appointment to the UN Human Rights Council gives the country an opportunity to examine its own human rights record.
Richard Flanagan, who received the Man Booker Prize in 2014, said he was delighted to be the inaugural Chair.
"It is a unique honour unlike any other I know of, carrying with it a larger possibility,” Mr. Flanagan said.
“While allowing its holder to continue writing, it is also an invitation to create a greater appreciation of Australian writing and writers – their struggles, their achievements, their necessity – within the University and more generally in Australian society. I hope I can do it some small justice.”
The appointment positions the University of Melbourne and the School of Culture and Communication at the forefront of national conversations about the future of Australian literature in higher education, school curricula and the broader community.
Mr. Flanagan was selected for this position by an independent panel comprising University academics and independent experts in the field.
Professor Glyn Davis, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, said the appointment of Richard Flanagan was a wonderful outcome for the disciplines of creative writing and literary studies in Australia.
“Literature performs such important work, reflecting and informing the human experience and enriching our culture and society,” he said. “To welcome one of the nation’s finest writers become the inaugural Boisbouvier Chair is a privilege for staff, students and the wider Melbourne community.”
The Boisbouvier Founding Chair in Australian Literature was established following the donation of $5 million by Mr. John Wylie AM and Mrs. Myriam Boisbouvier-Wylie.
The Chair also plays a key role in the partnership between the University and State Library Victoria, another key Melbourne institution of which Mr. John Wylie is President.
Mr. Wylie said he was delighted with the appointment of Richard Flanagan. “We look forward to seeing the Chair play a key role in promoting knowledge of Australian literature and activities that link two of our greatest cultural institutions in Melbourne – the State Library and the University.”
“Richard Flanagan is a writer of extraordinary talent who made me discover and appreciate many facets of the Australian experience and psyche through his beautiful and evocative writing,” Mrs. Myriam Boisbouvier-Wylie said.
Richard Flanagan is the newest addition to the University of Melbourne, whose growing list of public intellectuals include, among others, Sir Gus Nossal, Peter Singer, Cheryl Saunders, Ross Garnaut, Tim Flannery, Ingrid Scheffer, Peter Doherty, Marcia Langton and David Karoly.