The NSW electorate of Illawarra was first represented by John Fletcher Hargrave in 1859. The boundaries of the electorate have frequently changed in response to the growth of population in the Wollongong area. The electorate is now confined to the area between the Wollongong and Kiama electorates. The electorate council is comprised of the delegates from ALP branches within its boundaries. Its function is to select and support ALP candidates to contest state elections in the Illawarra electorate.