Our Workplace Investigations Team

Our Workplace Investigations Team


All our workplace investigators are highly experienced and qualified to undertake thorough, procedurally fair investigations and can provide useful insight into potential contributing factors to complaints. iHR Australia investigators remain impartial throughout the process and are equipped with the skills to deal sensitively with the parties involved.

Workplace investigations are supervised by iHR Australia’s Director of Workplace Relations and Senior Investigator, John Boardman.

John Boardman – Director of Workplace Relations

John Boardman is iHR Australia’s Director of Workplace Relations and has an extensive background in human resource management and industrial relations. He possesses high order analytical understanding, the proven ability to assess strategic options, and strong negotiating, advocacy and presentation skills. John has over 30 years’ experience in human resource management, many of which have been at senior executive level.

John is a competent ‘hands-on’ technician and has researched, prepared and conducted complex cases before both State and Federal tribunals. John has also provided advice to employers throughout major industrial relations disputes.

John has extensive experience in conducting independent workplace investigations into allegations of bullying and harassment, and has conducted major investigations across a broad range of industries. John also possesses significant experience in mediation and dispute resolution and has worked with a variety of organisations and workers at varying levels to assist in restoring appropriate working relationships.

John co-facilitates iHR Australia’s Workplace Investigation Officer Training around Australia.

As the head of iHR Australia’s investigations team, John reviews all reports and oversees all investigations to ensure a highly conscientious and consistent approach is applied.


Consultant Profiles:

Dr. Verena Marshall, PhD – Senior Workplace Relations Adviser

With over 30 years’ experience in HR/IR management and consultancy, Dr. Verena Marshall is adept at providing clients with strategic advice and operational support towards sound management policies and practice.

Verena has worked in both private companies and public sector organisations, including industries such as government, higher education and health and has conducted investigations within all of these sectors.

Verena has taught MBA students in the areas of strategic HR, employee relations and risk and safety management. Her particular areas of expertise are workplace relations, employment law, and occupational health and safety (OHS) law.

In addition to her PhD in Performance Management and MBA, Verena is legally trained, holding a Juris Doctor of Law, Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice, Graduate Certificate of Migration Law and has been admitted as a Solicitor to the Supreme Court of NSW.

Anton Duc – Senior Workplace Relations Adviser

Anton Duc has practiced in workplace relations since 1993. He has represented employers in the NSW and Federal jurisdiction in the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW, the Fair Work Commission (and its predecessors) and in various courts including the Federal Magistrates Court.

As a barrister, Anton has a unique and practical insight into how the law applies to issues that have the potential to be litigated, which is common in the bullying and discrimination sphere.

Anton has worked for a variety of employer organisations and law firms and has advised both large and small employers. He has also worked as a Human Resource Manager in hospitality and defence industries, dealing with counselling and discipline, investigations, planning of resource needs and dealing with unions.

He has been involved in all aspects of workplace relations including drafting contracts of employment, advising on terms and conditions of employment, litigating unfair dismissals and unfair contracts, workplace health and safety and enterprise agreements. Anton has also had extensive experience in investigating workplace bullying and harassment claims, including sexual harassment and discrimination claims.

Anton holds a barrister’s practicing certificate and specialises in employment law.

Charles White – Senior Workplace Relations Adviser

Charles White has worked in a range of senior workplace relations and human resources positions over the past 30 years. He was Human Resources Director at the Federal Court of Australia from 1999 – 2015 where he led a team undertaking all workplace relations and human resources work. This included providing specialist advice to the Court’s judges and executive on internal workplace relations and people management issues.

Charles has also worked for a range of other public and private sector organisations where, among other things, he streamlined a range of human resources policies and practices.

Charles has the ability to translate complex and contentious workplace issues into practical, easy-to-understand advice and reports. His articles and opinion pieces have appeared in the Australian Financial Review and the Australian Human Resources Institute magazine.

Charles has extensive experience in workplace investigations, both in the Court and in previous roles, in particular as the Australian Public Service Board’s manager of Grievances and Appeals in NSW.
His qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and Master of Labour Law and Relations, both from Sydney University.

Costa Brehas – Senior Workplace Relations Adviser

Costa is an experienced workplace relations practitioner having also previously practised as a lawyer for over 25 years.

Costa has acted as in-house legal counsel for peak employer organisations, has practised as a Senior Associate in the workplace relations departments of reputable mid-tier law firms and provided consultancy services across the entire spectrum of workplace relations issues. Costa has acted in numerous unfair dismissal matters, general protections applications, anti-bullying proceedings as well as discrimination, equal opportunity and sexual harassment disputes.

Costa has conducted complex workplace investigations into a variety of workplace disputes and complaints and has prepared comprehensive investigation reports. He has successfully mediated workplace disputes and has direct experience working within the human resources area of an international educational institution. His skills and years of experience in a diverse range of environments place Costa in a unique position to provide his services in an effective and efficient manner.

Costa holds a Baccalaureus Procurationis Law Degree. He was admitted to practise as an Attorney of the Supreme Court of South Africa in 1993 and as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria in 2002.

Paula Bruce – Senior Workplace Relations Adviser

Paula is an investigator, mediator, researcher, conflict coach and trainer with over 21 years’ experience. Working with government, commercial and not-for-profit organisations, Paula specialises in achieving dispute resolution through various models of early intervention. She has extensive experience undertaking, investigations and working with parties in addressing complaints including allegations of bullying and sexual harassment.

Paula offers training for clients including mediation, Collaborative Communication Systems, Working With EQ, Holding Difficult Conversations and Addressing Coercive and Controlling Behaviour for work teams, managers, HR personnel and mediation practitioners.

Her dedication and commitment to developing best practice includes undertaking research relating to high conflict relationships, culturally reflexive dispute resolution and challenges to mediation in Australian workplaces.

Paula holds tertiary qualifications in law, psychology, mediation and management and maintains a NSW practicing certificate as a solicitor. She chairs both professional development and practice committees for the Resolution Institute, the peak membership body for dispute resolvers in Australia and New Zealand. She has developed pilot mediation programs for Local, District and Federal Magistrates Courts.

Graeme Sharp – Senior Workplace Relations Adviser (NZ)

Graeme Sharp is based in Christchurch, New Zealand and has over 30 years’ human resources experience, specialising in HR advice, policy development and organisational development for a wide range of clients ranging from multi-national corporations, government departments to small business enterprises.

He was a Director for 15 years at The New Zealand Institute of Management (NZIM) Executive Staff Course, recognised as the premier management and professional development programme in New Zealand. He also conducted the programme in Fiji and Australia.

Graeme is well known for his practical pragmatic approach to solving employment issues whilst observing cultural norms. Graeme is recognised for solving employment relations issues and has significant experience in workplace mediation and dispute resolution. Graeme’s innovative thinking, strategic skills and ability to develop excellent communication lines and relationships with clients makes Graeme a much sought after consultant.

Graeme was elected to the Board of the NSW State Chamber of Commerce and was also Chairman of their Industrial Relations and Employment Committee. These roles also required Graeme to represent the Chamber on the NSW Consular and Diplomatic group and act as an advocate to both State and Federal Governments.

Mary Crean – Senior Workplace Relations Adviser

Mary Crean is a specialist in Workplace Investigations. Adept in providing advice post investigation, she is able to assist in managing the workplace after the inevitable disruption of an investigation, providing solutions and recommendations going forward.

Mary has conducted investigations all over South East Queensland for Local Government, not for profit organisations, multi-national companies as well as small medical practices and is very proud of the way she has helped improve long established poor workplace cultures to mitigate future workplace conflicts for many organisations.

After thirteen successful years at the English Bar practising in Crime, Family and Civil Law Mary emigrated to Queensland were she undertook a Post Graduate Diploma in Law at University of Queensland and was admitted as a Solicitor in 2010. Since that time Mary has worked in State and Local Government as well as private enterprise.

Karen Hermann – Senior Workplace Relations Adviser

Karen Hermann is an experienced workplace relations legal practitioner with a background working for leading private law firms, industry associations and government departments at Federal and State level.  Karen has substantial experience in providing technical, strategic and practical advice on a broad range of workplace relations matters including employment, discrimination, human resources and migration law matters.

Karen has significant experience in representing clients in mediations and conciliations before relevant Tribunals, and managing sensitive and complex employment and discrimination litigation in a range of jurisdictions.

Karen has also delivered training for clients in employment, discrimination and workplace policy compliance and on managing overseas workers.

Karen holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), Bachelor of Arts and is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria. Karen is also a registered Migration Agent.

Marie Irwin – Senior Workplace Relations Adviser

Marie has worked in the field of workplace relations and employment law for more than twenty years with ASX100 companies, trade unions and major law firms in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.  She has advised on and led employee relations strategy, organisational change and case management of complex individual employment matters in diverse industries, including finance, energy, retail, stevedoring, oil, supply chain and manufacturing.

As an experienced Workplace Relations practitioner, Marie has built a reputation for enabling HR and operational management to implement constructive solutions to workplace challenges. She has advised senior executive teams and boards on strategic approaches to workplace relations, including major change involving closures, automation and business acquisitions, as well as leading sensitive investigations into executive behaviour.  Marie coaches enterprise-bargaining negotiation teams, assisting them to develop successful bargaining strategies and practices.  She also provides guidance on the appropriate management of employee under-performance, adverse action matters, employees suffering long-term illnesses and allegations of bullying or harassment.

In addition to her certification in change management and leadership performance, Marie is a qualified lawyer, admitted as a legal practitioner in the High Court of Australia, holds a first class Honours Degree of Bachelor of Arts, (Politics) as well as a Master’s degree in Law and Management from the University of NSW.

Dr Helen Sitlington PhD – Senior Workplace Relations Adviser

Dr Helen Sitlington has over 25 years’ experience as a Human Resources and Employment Relations practitioner and is a Certified Practitioner with the Australian Human Resource Institute.  She has worked within organisations as HR Director and spent over 10 years as an academic with Curtin and Edith Cowan Universities.  She currently consults in Employment Relations, Strategic HR and Organisational Development.  Helen is a qualified Investigator and Mediator, holding Certificates in Mediation and Conciliation, Investigation Services and Government Investigations.  She is a Licenced Investigator under the Security and Related Activities Control Act (WA).

Helen regularly conducts inquiries and investigations on behalf of not-for-profit organisations, government departments and private companies.  She regularly investigates workplace bullying, harassment, serious misconduct, unprofessional behaviour, employee grievances and external complaints.

Helen has high level understanding and excellent knowledge of HR management and employment relations issues, including extensive experience interpreting and implementing legislation. Throughout her career, Helen has been involved in major organisational change resulting from changing strategic priorities, financial pressures and new service delivery requirements.  She is therefore familiar with challenging and changing environments and is a skilled change agent.

Helen holds a PhD in Human Resource Management researching the impact of organisational restructuring and downsizing and has published widely.  She also holds MBA and Bachelor of Science degrees.  Helen is currently the WA State President of the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI).

Atousa Khadem – Senior Workplace Relations Adviser

Atousa Khadem has held a diverse range of legal and legal policy positions in Public Service and private practice over the past 30 years.

Atousa brings particular expertise in managing and conducting sensitive investigations into allegations of misconduct and grievances, and is a skilled trainer and facilitator.

As a nationally accredited mediator, also accredited by CINERGY to provide conflict coaching, and a graduate of Harvard Law School in Advanced Negotiation, Atousa is a skilled and experienced conflict management and conflict resolution practitioner. Atousa provides training in conflict resolution to MBA students, and is a General Member of and a mediator with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Atousa is also an internationally accredited Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence teacher with the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, teaching the Mindfulness and Emotional ‘intelligence course developed at Google.

Atousa specialises in helping organisations and teams to manage and resolve workplace disputes and dysfunction to create positive, strong, mindful and resilient workplace relationships and culture.

See Workplace Investigations Services

iHR Australia also offers Workplace Investigation related training:

Workplace Investigations Officer Public Training Programs

Workplace Investigations Officer In-House Training Programs