Long-serving Labor MP Sharon Bird will retire from federal politics at the next election after holding the seat of Cunningham for more than 17 years.
Ms Bird said it had not been an easy decision but she was proud her community had supported her through six elections.
"I am now at a stage of my life where I need to focus more fully on the people I love in my family, who have given years of total support to me, and lived with my regular absences knowing how important my work has been to my community," she said.
"I want to now repay that and give them much more of my time.
"I'm a Nanna now and a Mum and it's come to a point in my life where I need to prioritise my family."
Ms Bird won the safe Labor seat of Cunningham in 2004.
While it can be tough being the opposition when you are an MP, she said it had been an amazing honour and privilege to represent the Wollongong community.
"Whether you are in government or the opposition, there's still people every day who can't get their Nan an aged care package or they are having a problem with Centrelink," she said.
"These issues are as just as important as some of the big issues we are lobbying for in parliament.
"The fact that my local community has supported me at six elections to continue to work on their behalf is very humbling and makes me very proud."
Meanwhile, state Labor MPs Ryan Park and Paul Scully have led the tributes to Ms Bird this morning.
Mr Scully described Ms Bird as a "mentor and a mate", whose commitment to the region was unchecked.
"Sharon has helped deliver around $1 billion worth of spending commitments to the region during her period in office, including securing the Illawarra as an early roll-out region for the National Broadband Network and helping secure the future of our steel industry, improving university, TAFEs, school, health and community facilities," he said.
"She is passionate and committed to our region and our region has benefitted from her efforts."
Mr Park said Ms Bird's commitment to her constituents and their individual needs was second to none.
"What people may not see is the time and energy she personally puts in to local residents who are doing it tough or struggling to navigate complex Federal Government bureaucracies," he said.
"Sharon and her team will often spend hours with people trying to help them access support through Centrelink or get a loved one home from overseas during COVID and all the extra challenges and difficulties that came along with this.
"I want to congratulate Sharon on an outstanding career in public office. She leaves knowing our community is better because of her dedicated service and commitment to the people of the Illawarra."
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