There are calls to stop paying "peanuts" to those who care for our most vulnerable as part of a push to help solve the childcare and aged-care worker crisis.
Wage reform for both sectors is on the agenda for Emma Mahony - the chief executive officer for Women's Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West.
GPs, teachers and healthcare workers are among those struggling to stay in or return to work because they can't secure childcare places.
While there is a pipeline of TAFE students coming to help fill the gap, and two new centres on the drawing board, Ms Mahoney said better pay was needed to stem the tide of those leaving the sectors.
"There is a profound and deep need for affordable and accessible childcare. We're really in a crisis in that space 100 per cent," she said.
"We pay peanuts for childcare. What we are really looking for is wage reform. It's really challenging to think about providing pathways into childcare and aged-care when you are not making it a desirable pathway.
"There's a reason people are leaving the workforce... if you're not making enough money to live, particularly when the cost of living is escalating. Imagine living on a small wage in that landscape."
Ms Mahoney said as a society the decision had been made to pay childcare and aged-care workers - both female dominated - poorly.
On Wednesday, the Fair Work Commission increased the national minimum wage 5.2 per cent to $21.38.
She said women, in the course of their lives, ended up earning less and leaving the workforce with often 50 per cent less the amount of super that men had.
Those who chose not to use childcare and instead stay home and care for their children also ended up paying "a heavy price".
"The price is that they lose the financial security in the short term but what we probably don't talk about enough is it's also in the long term," Ms Mahony said.
"It's women who leave their jobs and are unable to work to their fullest potential because we're still in a place where, even partnered women, still take on that load."
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