John Frew graduated in medicine from the University of Melbourne in 1938. In March 1941 he was appointed a Captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps and was posted to Malaya. While a prisoner of war from 1942 to 1945, he treated soldiers and civilian labourers working on the Burma – Thailand Railway.
In the post war period, John Frew held every post available to him at the Royal Melbourne Hospital: honorary physician to out-patients (1946-57) and in-patients (1958-72), Subdean of the clinical school (1947-55) and consultant physician (1972-85).
A gifted teacher, John Frew was a clinical instructor (1948-72) at the University of Melbourne’s faculty of medicine. Through the Colombo Plan and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, he advised on the development of medicine in India and South-East Asia. He served as a member (1954-79), Vice-President (1968-73) and President (1973-79) of the RMH committee of management, as well as Chairman (1967) of the hospital’s medical staff. For the RACP he was Censor (1956-66), Censor-in-chief (1966-70), Vice-President (1970-72) and President (1972-74). He was a member of the Medical Salaries Committee (1959-62), the Victorian Nursing Council (1963-74), the Australian Hospital Association (1977-79), the Victorian Hospitals Association (1974-79) and the National Health and Medical Research Council’s first medical research ethics committee (1982-84); a commissioner (1967-69) of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories; and chairman of the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee (1982-85) and the Freemasons Hospital board of management (1983-85).
Appointed an OBE in 1976 and knighted in 1980, he was a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London, and an honorary fellow of the Academy of Medicine of Singapore, the Australian Medical Association and the American College of Physicians.
(1912 – 1985)