APPVA Patron

Major General (Professor) John Pearn AM, RFD (Ret’d)
Past Surgeon General,
Australian Defence Force

Major General John Pearn was born in Brisbane in 1940 and was educated at Brisbane Grammar School and the University of Queensland.

He enlisted as a Captain (Regimental Medical Officer) in No.1 Casualty Clearing Station in Brisbane in 1965. He has seen active service on three occasions, firstly as Resident Medical Officer to the Pacific Island Regiments (2nd Battalion) in 1966, during Confrontation. He subsequently served in Vietnam as the Consultant Physician to the Australian and New Zealand Force, based at 1st Australian Field Hospital in Vang Tau. He served as the Resuscitationist and Consultant Physician as part of the Forward Surgical Team of the Australian Medical Support Force, during the Rwandan emergency.

His Army Reserve career has included command of No 2 Field Hospital (1979 - 1982) in Brisbane and numerous other senior military staff and training postings.

In civilian life, Professor Pearn is Deputy Head within the Graduate School of Medicine, University of Queensland; and Consultant Physician to the Royal Women's Hospital in Brisbane and Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health based at the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane.

Major General Pearn has published comprehensively in the areas of military medicine and military history. Prior to his appointment as Surgeon General, he was the Representative Honorary Colonel for the Royal Australian Medical Corps (RAAMC) in Australia and has been Colonel Consultant (Office of the Surgeon General) in Medical Research and Medical Ethics since 1990. He chairs the Australian Defence Medical Ethics Committee.

He has been awarded the Reserve Force Decoration and was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1979. Major General Pearn retired as the Surgeon General in early 2001.

Major General Pearn and his wife Vena have three adult children in the professions of computing science, the theatre and teaching.

Role and Responsibilities of the Surgeon General

The Surgeon General is responsible to the Chief of the Defence Force, Secretary of Defence, Vice Chief of the Defence Force and the Service Chiefs for the provision of health advice. He is responsible for the formulation of joint health policy and for the technical control of health services assets.