Over the past six years Kylie Grey's salary has increased by just $4 an hour.
The early childhood education worker will walk off the job on Thursday with thousands of others across the country to demand higher wages.
It will be Australia's biggest early education walk-off and will affect about 10,000 families.
Ms Grey, a mother of three, says she may have to leave the sector if her salary does not increase, as she can't afford the cost of living.
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"How can we – when we have qualifications such as certificates and diplomas and bachelor's [degrees] – live off $21 an hour?" she said on Sunday.
At 3.20 pm on Thursday childcare workers will leave work – the time they say they start working for free because of low wages.
The assistant national secretary of the United Voice union, Helen Gibbons, said the sector's low wages stemmed from the profession being seen as women's work and staffed by people who worked purely for love of it.
"Prime Minister, love does not pay the bills, it does not pay your mortgage or your energy bills," Ms Gibbons said.
She said an application for a 35 per cent increase was with the Fair Work Commission.
About 180 workers left the industry each week as they could no longer afford to stay, Ms Gibbons said.
The walk-off will be the second in the sector this year, after action in March failed to influence the federal budget.
"They [politicians] could fix this tomorrow if they had the political will," Ms Gibbons said.
"Educators are not going to give up."