Melbourne childcare centre director Narelle Lawton was one of 100 childcare workers who this month walked off the job to demand better pay for the first time in 30 years.
"People are paid $20 an hour in hospitality and they are serving people food, but we are educating Australia's future," the Dawson St Child Care Co-operative director told BuzzFeed News.
An educator with a certificate three in childcare earns $40,000 a year. A rate that Lawton believes is well below men with comparable qualifications in other industries.
"If you look at men holding certificates and diplomas in metalwork, they are getting about 16% more," she said.
Australia's early childcare sector workforce is at least 94% female.
"Because we are a female dominated sector it makes it even harder for our educators to get back into the workforce once they have babies because the pay rate is so low and they then have to pay for childcare too," Lawton, who is one of the 80,000 educators in the long day care sector responsible for about 700,000 children, said.
"The biggest battle that we have every day is people thinking that we just babysit."
Two-thirds (63.5%) of Australians believed a pay rate of $20 per hour was too low for childcare educators, a survey of 2300 people released today by union United Voice found.
Two thirds of women (65.5%) also believed the federal government was not doing enough to ensure women earned the same as men for comparable work.
“The take out message from this research is that Australians, especially women, believe the Turnbull government needs to pull its socks up on equal pay for women and especially early childhood educators," United Voice assistant national secretary Helen Gibbons said.
Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Gina Rushton at email@example.com.
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