As a child, Associate Professor Neville King was chased by dogs on his way to school at Railton Primary.
The experience created a fear of canines that, in later years, was his motivation for studying and researching
Dr King, who is now retired and living at Hillwood, is credited as one of the experts who introduced Cognitive
Behaviour Change to Australia.
Cognitive behaviour therapy is a type of psychosocial therapy designed to help people change unhelpful or
unhealthy habits of thinking, feeling and behaving, and is now the main psychological approach to care worldwide.
It was this, as well as other significant work as an academic, researcher and author, that led to Dr King’s
appointment as an Officer of the Order of Australia for his distinguished service to medicine and medical education,
particularly in the field of cognitive and behaviour therapy.
His wife, Judith, said Dr King was overwhelmed when he was notified of the award and had “no inkling” that it was
in the works.
“His national and international colleagues had worked together for the submission in secret, even I kept the secret
for 18 months,” Mrs King said.
“He stared at the envelope wondering why he had received a letter from Government House in Canberra, when he
opened the envelope and read its contents he said ‘hooley dooley’ … and then sat down and stared quietly at the
letter for about 10 minutes taking in the contents.”
Born at Latrobe, Dr King started his education in the state’s North-West and he believes the work of “a wonderful
teacher” was significant during those formative years.
“Miss Meers instilled in her students that they could achieve anything they dreamed with hard work,” Dr King said.
“One of my classmates was former premier Michael Field and we have both been inducted into the Railton Wall of
Honour, so Miss Meers made a great difference by inspiring her students.”
After matriculating from Devonport High, Dr King went to UTAS for his initial psychology studies before moving to
Melbourne for his PhD in psychology at Latrobe University.
He has a continuous list of publications from the 1980s to 2007 and held a number of distinguished positions at
While working on international research and publications, Dr King continued to lecture in all aspects of psychology
and education in Australia.
As an academic, he was awarded $3.6 million during the course of his career to research various aspects of child
behaviour, including fears and phobias, school refusal and truancy, as well as sexual counselling for people with
spinal cord injuries.
Dr King was also one of the founding members of the Australian Association for Cognitive and Behaviour Therapy,
which now links with nearly 60 other countries improving cognitive behaviour change therapies for adults and
children in need.
He was also the founding editor of the peer-reviewed and longstanding journal, Behaviour Change.
When asked to choose what achievement in his career gave him the most pride, Dr King said being awarded
the AACBT Distinguished Career Award in 1999, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to behaviour
research and therapy, and service to the association.
At the end of 2007, Dr King moved back to Tasmania for “the quiet life” and lives on a property overlooking the
To this day he is still passionate about maintaining a quality of life and uses cognitive behaviour principles daily to
slow the progress of Huntington’s Disease, an inherited genetic disorder.
Dr King said, having travelled the world, he thinks Tasmania is one of the most beautiful places and he looks
forward to more trips across the state.
**Bulletin Editor.... Neville and Judith King have been Rotarians of our Club since April 2015 and I would like to
thank Judith for her permission to print this bio. Congratulations Neville from all at the Club.
Some notes from Judith....
Once the Award was announced the phone rang hot. Four of Neville’s fellow primary students have made contact
after 65 years.
Retired Monash Dean David Aspen phoned to say he could think of no more worthy recipient of the Officer of the
Order of Australia.
Today Neville’s best friend at Devonport High phoned and they will have a reunion after 55 years.