Neal, Bernard AM

  • Bernard Neal

    Bernard William Neal AM, MD, FRACP, DipEd (Monash), Blit (Hons)

    18/07/1924 – 05/07/2013

    Bernard Neal, often known as ‘Bunny’, was unusual in combining paediatrics with training in education and literature. He was born and spent his childhood years in Preston where his father was a general medical practitioner.

    After graduating MB BS from the University of Melbourne in 1947, he spent five years from 1950 as a Registrar to Dr Stanley Williams, and as a Medical Officer in the General Clinic and Clinical Supervisor. His first formal taste of teaching paediatrics occurred when he spent 1955-56 as Lecturer in Child Health at Liverpool University. He later completed a Diploma of Education at Monash University. 

    In 1957 Bernard married Enid Murphy PhD, who was a long-time member of the French Department at University of Melbourne, with whom he had four children, Kate, Bill, Margaret and Tom.

    Bernard spent almost all of his professional life at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne (RCH) as Physician (1960-1973), Physician Head of Unit (1973-1989) and Physician in Charge Enuresis Unit (1966-1989). He was Honorary Secretary and later Chairman of the Senior Medical Staff Association and served on many committees. 

    Bernard also had a busy private practice. He was a superb clinician, with a great ability to make an accurate diagnosis based mainly on a thorough history and physical examination. He established an easy relationship with children and their parents and was an excellent communicator. He had special expertise in the diagnosis and management of emotional problems in infants and children, and in the management of enuresis.

    At an international level, Bernard was a member of the Standing Committee for the International Paediatric Association (1981-86), and a lecturer and examiner for the University of Singapore and the National University of Malaysia.

    The Australian College of Paediatrics benefitted from his involvement in many ways, including as Honorary Secretary (1966-71), and Representative on the Association of Paediatric Societies of the South-East Asian Region (1974-79).

    Bernard served the University of Melbourne as teacher of undergraduate students, member of the Faculty of Medicine (1974-77), on the Board of Examiners in Medicine for many years, and as Senior Associate in the Department of Paediatrics (1974-79).


    Bernard was made a Fellow of the Australian Medical Association in 1984, awarded the President’s Medal of the RCH in 1989, appointed a member of the Order of Australia in 1994 and became Honorary Life Governor of the Australian Postgraduate Federation in Medicine in 1995.

    He was appointed Dean of Postgraduate Studies at RCH in 1986. He initiated monthly postgraduate bulletins, organised Grand Rounds with a broad and interesting program, arranged educational visits of many international speakers, and developed an innovative and stimulating program for registrar training.

    Bernard Neal made an outstanding contribution as a member of the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria from 1975, Deputy President (1976-80) and President (from 1980). He also served on the Australian Medical Council, as Executive Member (1985), Deputy President (1987) and President in 1988. He was a member of the Australian Medical Examining Council (1980-85), the National Specialist Qualifications Advisory Committee (from 1980), and the National Workforce Data Review Committee from 1989.

    To add to these contributions, he was member of the National Health and Medical Research Committee (1970-79), Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee (1974-79), Chairman of the ad hoc Therapeutic Methods Committee from 1975, Chairman of the Working Party on Enuresis (1975), and the National Medical Workforce Data Review Committee from 1989.

    Bunny Neal 2

    Other activities and achievements:

    Bernard became fluent in German, visiting Germany on many occasions. He loved the use and meaning of words and enjoyed discussions on a wide variety of subjects. He enjoyed playing golf and skiing, and was a member of Kew Golf Club, the Melbourne Club and the Melbourne Cricket Club. He faithfully supported the Demons (the Melbourne Football Club), even during their periods of lesser achievement.

    Personal and family life:

    Bernard Neal, was a warm, kind, and compassionate person with a wide circle of friends. He loved language and the use and meaning of words, participated freely in discussions on a wide variety of subjects and solved the cryptic crossword on a regular basis. He and Enid had a very happy and intellectually stimulating time together for more than thirty years, with their four children at Kew and at Portsea. Enid died in 1988 and in 1994 he remarried to Mary Parkin.

    Garry Warne remembers his  love of Four’n Twenty pies, which were a regular feature of his lunch over many years, even after retirement. Bernard was a loving husband and father, a great friend to many, an excellent paediatrician, teacher, lecturer and examiner. He was also not only an admirable committee member, but a Chairman par excellence.