Meet our team
Our team consists of highly trained technical, training and support staff who provide research, testing, engineering, scientific and training services to enhance industry safety and health outcomes.
Meet the Leadership Team
Executive Director, Simtars, Kerri Melkersson
Kerri’s 20-plus year leadership career has spanned multiple sectors including banking and finance, currency management and workers’ compensation - focussing on occupational rehabilitation and the return-to-work of Queensland’s injured workers. She joined the resources regulator in 2018 to support regulatory reform following the re-identification of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and has a particular interest and expertise in the detection and prevention of latent onset occupational disease.
Appointed as Executive Director of Simtars in 2022, Kerri is passionate about improving safety and health outcomes for Queensland’s resource workers. She is focussed on ensuring that Simtars provides contemporary best practice health and safety services, targeted strategic research, continues to deliver critical emergency capability and response, and remains abreast of existing and emerging safety and health harms, to support industry needs..
Craig Tayler, Director, Training, Testing and Certification Centre
Craig Tayler draws from his life experiences to provide strategic advice to resource, public sector and manufacturing industries about anticipating and eliminating adverse safety and health outcomes for workers. With over 27 years’ experience at Simtars, Craig is driven by continuous improvement and growth through consultation, team building, customer focus, strategic implementation and collaboration. These values make successful organisations and people and connect decisions with actions.
He has extensive experience designing, implementing and evaluating occupational hygiene management systems and exposure assessment programs for clients within Australia and internationally. From the workshop to the boardroom, Craig uses his expertise to provide practical advice and leadership so workers have the opportunity to go home safely. Craig is a Certified Occupational Hygienist, NATA signatory, full member of the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists and holds a Master’s in Occupational Hygiene Practice.
Paul Chant, Director, Occupational Hygiene, Environment and Chemistry Centre
Paul Chant has been a technical consultant for over 17 years and is passionate about helping operators overcome their health, safety and environmental challenges. He has consulted to most mainstream industries in Australia including mines, bulk handling facilities, oil refineries, oil shale plants, CSG gas fields, power stations, paper mills, chemical manufacturers, vehicle holding facilities and landfills.
Paul is an accomplished Project Manager and Project Director Paul having designed, installed and managed some of Queensland’s largest monitoring programs for environmental regulatory approvals and compliance. Paul is a consultant by choice and Director of the Occupational Hygiene, Environment and Chemistry Centre and believes in only providing solutions that exactly meets industry needs.
Dr Gareth Kennedy, Director, Mine Safety Technology Research Centre
Gareth has over 18 years of experience in both the coal and metalliferous mining industries. He has held public and private sector roles in Australia and the UK. He has particular expertise in mining safety technology, mining automation systems, underground communications, energy management systems, instrumentation, telemetry and in managing large-scale projects.
Gareth and his team are responsible for providing mine technical support services, including emergency response, mine gas monitoring systems and services, consulting, research and development for the industry. He holds a PhD in Mining Engineering, a BEng (Hons) Electronic Engineering degree, and a Graduate Certificate in Business (Public Sector Management). Gareth is also an adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Queensland's Sustainable Minerals Institute.
Estrella Moya, Business Support Manager
Estrella, an experienced administrator with over 30 years’ experience in the government sector is an integral member of Simtars Leadership Team. As the Business Support Manager, Estrella has positively led the organisation through the many administrative and machinery of government changes. Estrella has managed teams focusing on customer service, administration, human resources, finance, facilities and IT. She has worked in regional and district offices supporting tenure administration including exploration permits, mining leases, explosives reserves and mines inspectorate. Joining Simtars in 2005 where her team building skills and emotional intelligence have been utilised to mentor, develop and coach a diverse workforce and inspire a team work ethic for the benefit of the individual, customers and Simtars. A certified Level 3 Procurement Officer, Estrella’s knowledge and skills are constantly sought-after.
Meet our technical experts
Martin Watkinson, Executive Mining Engineer
Martin has over 40 years underground coal mining experience , primarily in the UK, Australia and India. He provides technical advice on safety systems in particular ventilation, spontaneous combustion and emergency response to the Queensland mining industry and the Queensland mines inspectorate. This includes assisting with investigations into serious accidents and incidents. Martin is the Chair of the Queensland Level 1 exercise committee having organised 10 in underground coal, one in hard rock and two in New Zealand.
David Turner, Technical Director
David Turner provides engineering oversight of major internal development projects and oversees the maintenance of all Simtars technical accreditiations and management system certifications. He has over 10 years experence in the testing and certification of explosion protected equipment and over 20 years experience in the management of accredited testing facilities in the electricity supply industry. His qualifications include Bachelor of Engineering, Master of Engineering Science, Master of Business Administration and is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia and a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is currently Chair of the National Association of Testing Authorities and a Councillor of Standards Australia.
Training, Testing and Certification Centre
Bipin Parmar, Principal Engineer
Bipin has an excellent understanding of business, particularly in projects concerning hazardous areas process and products. He has developed the art of making complex subject matter simple, through his practical approach and influence and has conducted many assessments and tests of Ex products to the recognised protection standards under IEC and AS/NZS standards. Bipin is a hands-on engineer who listens to both the client and company needs and delivers results that meet or exceed expectations by working across all functions.
He has worked in private and public companies with professionals for over 40 Years. He is Cert IV qualified assessor and trainer, a NATA technical auditor and technical auditor under the IECEx scheme. He has been involved in the auditing of Ex product manufacturers and recognised service facilities for over 15 years. As a fee for service Bipin conducts technical investigations of electrical equipment failure or breakdown.
Geoff Barnier, Principal Engineer
Geoff has over 30 years experience in the testing and certification of explosion protected equipment and played a significant part in Simtars gaining Quality Management System, NATA and Certification Body accreditations.
Geoff has conducted assessment and testing of explosion protected equipment and managed the Simtars testing team. Currently, and for over 7 years, Geoff has maintained and managed the Simtars Certification Body participation in the international IECEx and national ANZEx certification schemes for both manufacturers and service facilities (overhaul and repair workshops) as well as the Simtars Certification Quality Management System (ISO 9001) accredited Certification Body. This additionally involves the management of Simtars auditing for the above schemes, which Geoff is also a senior audit.
Geoff enthusiastically participates in the IECEx and ANZEx certification scheme committees, as well as a number of international IEC and national AS/NZS standards committees to ensure Simtars remains at the forefront for explosion protection afforded by equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres protecting lives and property.
Geoff holds a Bachelor of Technology in Electrical and Electronic Engineering which complements his previous Military training in Electronics, Communications and Metrology and is a NATA technical auditor and signatory.
Aaron Heck, Calibration Supervisor
Aaron Heck is a proactive, dedicated and experienced professional with extensive background in calibration, gas detection, quality management, operations management, business planning and continuous improvement which has been gained from 10+ years of employment with Simtars.
Aaron is committed to zero serious harm by ensuring gas detection systems and dust sampling equipment used in the resource sectors, manufacturing and processing industries are maintained to the highest standard.
Aaron is also a NATA signatory for calibrations of gas monitors, personal sampling pumps, flow meters, ovens and furnaces.
Neel Balgovind, RTO Manager
Neel has over 8 years of experience in the Vocational Education Sector. He qualifications are in Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science and Masters in Business Administration. He is a member of the Australian HR Institute and Australian Institute of Project Management. Neel and his team are involved in delivery statutory training across queensland and providing other non accredited training services to both the industry.
Mine Safety Technology Research Centre
Andre De Kock, Research Manager
André has over 30 years of experience working in coal mining safety research, particularly in systems testing, design, installation and explosion protection techniques. André and his team are currently engaged in a number of research projects and complex technical investigations. André is responsible for coordinating new research projects, developing new technologies, disseminating knowledge and developing new products. Prior to joining Simtars, he worked for the Chamber of Mines of South Africa Research Organisation and CSIR Miningtek for 17 years.
Sean Muller, Principal Scientist
Sean has more than a decade of experience in the underground coal mining industry as a gas chemist, specialising in the analysis of underground coal mine atmospheres and spontaneous combustion indicators for mine safety. As part of Simtars emergency response team. He has provided gas analysis support at numerous mines fires and spontaneous combustion events at underground coal mines in Queensland, New South Wales and internationally including Pike River 2010. Sean contributed to the Queensland coal mining board of Inquiry in 2020. His qualifications include a Bachelor of Applied Science (in Chemistry) and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and is a NATA signatory for Simtars laboratory gas analysis procedures and calibration of equipment.
Sean particularly enjoys contributing to the prevention of mine fires and heating events by delivering operational training for gas analysis systems and providing education on spontaneous combustion indicators. As principal scientist, Mine Safety Technology unit, he leads the team to deliver the Simtars emergency response capability and gas analysis support for underground coal mines, and the provision of gas monitoring solutions including Safegas automated monitoring and CAMGAS Gas Chromatography.
Occupational Hygiene, Environment and Chemistry Centre
Deborah Van Zanten, Principal Occupational Hygienist
Deborah van Zanten is the Principal Occupational Hygienist at Simtars. With nearly 23 years’ full- time experience in Occupational Hygiene, Deborah has extensive experience in the mining, quarrying and manufacturing work environments. She leads and manages the Hygiene Team in developing, delivering, monitoring and evaluating a portfolio of client jobs, with a focus on driving and delivering technical excellence, client outcomes as well as supporting achievement of organizational outcomes.
Deborah’s commitment to health and safety stems from her nursing background working as a Registered Nurse within the Public and Private sectors, as well as a Reservist in the RAAF. This prior knowledge and experience is a driving force in her commitment to improving the health and safety of workers. Deborah is a Certified Occupational Hygienist (COH), holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (OHS) and is a NATA signatory for all occupational hygiene test reports.
Inga Usher – Principal Scientist Analytical Services
Inga Usher has 20 years’ experience in instrumentation and analytical chemistry through working as an Analytical Chemist, in the pharmaceutical and coal mining industries. She has broad instrument exposure across FT-IR, UV-Vis, HPLC, GC and micro-GC, including validation of new instruments and method changes. She has 15 years’ experience in the Simtars’ Emergency Response team for CAMGAS, which has involved responses to mine disasters in both Queensland and New Zealand. She has 15 years’ experience as a signatory for NATA and non-NATA gas analysis reports and laboratory investigation reports. She has a Bachelor of Science (Chemistry) degree from University of Central Queensland. In her current role as Principal Scientist for Analytical Services, she leads a team of experienced Chemists and Laboratory Technicians to deliver quality analysis for samples taken from occupational hygiene monitoring surveys.
Last updated: 24 Feb 2023