|| Retirement of longstanding Councillor Helen Ballentine ||

Fifteen years ago Cr Ballentine found her much beloved ongoing job as social worker with DHS in Horsham becoming too difficult to balance with her family farm obligations so she decided to pursue other opportunities closer to home in which to contribute to the community. Helen ran for Council and was elected in the Hopetoun Ward.

Her community involvement had already been extensive to that point with multiple years with Rotary, Progress Associations and on the RNH Board. As a farmer she understood the impact the drought was having on the community as well as the need for strong support and governance oversight of key community service organisations.

After being appointed to Council in 2005, Helen was elected by her Council as Mayor in 2009 and during that time continued to care for her brother and parents. In 2010 Helen started to undertake relief social work with Wimmera Health Care Group.

In 2010, Helen was nominated for the Rural Women’s award and attended Parliament House for the ceremony before being invited annually to support other nominees. In 2014 Helen acknowledged the centenary of ladies on Council with a plaque for on behalf of Yarriambiack. In 2016 Helen successfully ran the Hopetoun Women on Farms Gathering with a great group of Women, and in 2017 was successful in joining the board of the Victorian Rural Women’s Network for two years.

Cr Ballentine’s interests on Council were always water, emergency management, tourism and economic development, alongside the critical roads, rates and rubbish roles. Being part of the changes in our great Yarriambiack towns has been her greatest experience and whilst the different projects are too numerous to list, Helen has maintained a great photograph album of the journey.

Helen has been a strong voice for Wimmera Mallee Tourism for some 13 years, and was one of the original steering group members and followed this commitment through to recent times. She has volunteered a lot of time to the promotion of the region. She has also chaired the Yarriambiack Tourism group over ten years which brought together at least two representatives from most towns in the shire to learn about the whole shire and its tourism products, produce brochures and discuss ideas.

In Cr Ballentine’s own words:

In the past I have juggled my personal and public roles well, but since losing my son to sudden death in April 2019, I have realised how unpredictable life is and how I need to spend more time on myself and my husband, and take a few more extended holidays. This has meant making the decision to step away from Council of which I have very much loved being a part of but for which I recognise I can no longer give all the time commitment it deserves to serve the community.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my involvement on Council, and it has been a tough decision to retire from Council. I will miss the role and also miss the trips to Parliament and Canberra advocating on behalf of this incredible region, the unique and special occasions to be celebrated, and the people I have associated with, however, I am still in the region, and still available on Facebook or phone.

My passion in everything I have done has been to improve our quality of life, and my memories of everything rotate around this core principle. I am grateful to have served my community and will miss doing so and I hope that the next representatives of the Hopetoun Ward and Yarriambiack Council are committed to making the communities the best places they can be.

Mayor Graeme Massey said

“Helen’s record as a Yarriambiack Shire Councillor speaks for itself. Helen has made a major contribution to a wide range of organisations and committees during the past fifteen years.

I have great admiration for Helen’s many achievements especially her roles with Wimmera Mallee Tourism, Yarriambiack Tourism and the Women on Farms gathering at Hopetoun in 2016.

On behalf of council and staff we thank you and wish you well in coming years.”

End of press release.

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