IMAGINE being personally responsible for lives and safety in a classroom full of small children for eight hours every day.
Imagine knowing that after just one slip-up, you could be subject to a government department investigation.
Imagine dealing with parents who feel it's somehow okay to leave their sick children with you in the middle of flu season.
Then imagine opening your pay packet each week, and finding that despite having formal qualifications taking from 18 months to four years to achieve, and ongoing educational requirements, you get just over $21 an hour.
It's little wonder about 3000 childcare workers are going on strike today.
There are few sectors in the workforce that are so underpaid - for what they do.
My wife works in childcare.
She loves working with children and she's very good at what she does.
She is blessed to be in a school environment which values what she does.
And most of the parents do show her appreciation, including yesterday when she and other childcare workers were honoured for their efforts.
But like others in her sector, she should be paid more for what she does.
At 3.20pm today, thousands of childcare workers across Australia are expected to walk off the job.
It is expected to be the biggest sector walk-off in Australian history, and is the second this year after a protest in March failed to influence the federal budget.
United Voice, the union representing early education workers, say about 180 people each week leave the industry because they can no longer afford the cost of living.
Like everyone else, childcare workers are facing rising living costs, including huge surges in energy bills.
The workers want the Fair Work Commission to agree to a 35% increase.
Childcare workers look after Australia's most precious assets, the future generation.
They are professionals - and should be treated - and paid accordingly.
CHILD CARE BY THE NUMBERS
- There are about 80,000 educators working in the long day care sector educating about 700,000 children in
- 6,900 centres across Australia.
- 97 per cent of the workforce in long day care is female. 70% of educators have their wages set by awards in comparison to 20% of the rest of the workforce.
- Qualified educators are some of the lowest paid professionals in Australia. Educators study for 18 months to 4 years to gain their qualifications.
- Qualified educators are paid as little as $21.29 per hour - around half the average wage.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.