Councillor profiles - Jacki Ball President Shire of Dumbleyung

Article image - Councillor profiles - Jacki Ball President Shire of Dumbleyung Shire President Jacki Ball (R) receives her award from President WALGA Councillor Lynn Craigie (L).

The Dumbleyung Shire Council is situated in the Great Southern region of Western Australia (WA).  

We are 270km south east of Perth, between the towns of Wagin and Lake Grace and our Shire covers an area of 2540 sq kms, with about 650 residents. We have two towns, Dumbleyung and Kukerin.

Our council has nine members - five women and four men. The first female was elected to the Dumbleyung Council in 1981.

Famous past
Our shire has the biggest natural inland lake in WA, Lake Dumbleyung, which in 1964 put the shire firmly on the world map when English speedster, Donald Campbell, broke the world water speed record on it in his jet powered boat Bluebird. He then became the first person to break both the world land speed and water speed record in one year, doing so on the last day of 1964.

Since then, the lake and more recently, the replica of the Bluebird situated in the Dumbleyung main street, has continued to attract vast amounts of tourists. The replica was built in 2014 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Campbell’s record achievement. 

Two years ago we had record breaking floods and our lake filled up, but this is only temporary as the lake goes through dry cycles as well. 

The lake is my favourite attraction in the shire and I have spent a lot of time out on it in our boat and sitting on the shore watching the sunset.

Active in the community
I first became a councillor in 2005 after being encouraged to stand by a good friend. I’d always been a part of community groups: Parents and Citizens, our local festival committee, Theatre Club, Bookclub etc, and after my four children, who are now aged from 26-35, grew up I decided I could take on a role on Council.

I spent four years as Deputy Shire President and became the first female Shire President of the Dumbleyung Shire in 2017. 

I also farm with my husband Colin on our property, situated north east of Dumbleyung, where we run sheep and grow wheat, barley, oats, lupins and canola.

Outside of work hours I enjoy reading for relaxation and love to get out on the farm and go for a long walk. This is where I often run council issues through my head. 

Life with four children and now four grandchildren also keeps me busy, and Colin and I both love to travel when we get the chance to have a break from the farm. 

We have travelled over most of the United Kingdom and Europe, walking 100km of the Camino in Spain a few years ago; and have been to Africa, Asia, New Zealand, Iceland and America. But there are still a few more places on our bucket list. We’ve also travelled the north of WA and paid a few visits to the eastern states.

Getting bigger keeps us small
I think the biggest challenge facing our shire and all small shires, is population drift, although having said that our shire has been fairly stable over the past few years. But as farmers find it increasingly tough and for various reasons sell out to the neighbours, the farms get bigger, and the population suffers. This impacts our community and our schools. 

A drying climate is also a challenge for the future. And our shire like all shires, has felt the impact of government grants drying up, particularly after the change in format of Royalties for Regions in WA, which was a great boost for little shires like ours. 

One thing the Dumbleyung Shire is fortunate to have is the Bain Estate, an amazing legacy bequested to us by three bachelor brothers who passed away several years ago without any family and left their savings of around $4.5 million to the Shire. Each year the Shire allocates money from the Estate to community groups for projects that they also contribute a percentage of funds to.  

Limited life on council
I have enjoyed my role as a councillor and more recently as shire president and am proud that in 2017 I was recognised with the Western Australia Local Government Association Long and Loyal Service Award. 

Being part of the community’s decision making group is very rewarding. The worst part is probably when someone approaches me with a problem and I can’t solve it - that’s when there’s a phone call to my Chief Executive Officer, I look to him for advice.

I don’t have too many aspirations for the future except to continue to be a good councillor and Shire President and work through the issues as they come along and still enjoy doing so. 

I do believe there’s a limited time for anyone to spend on Council and when my time is up I will be happy to move aside to let some new blood come on board.