Childcare centre manager Shani Seneviratne is forced to turn away parents regularly - including women who join her waiting list as soon as they fall pregnant.
But the extent of the nation's childcare crisis really hit home when her recently employed early childhood teacher had to quit because she could not find suitable child care for her baby.
"We are full otherwise I would offer her a place," Mrs Seneviratne said. "It's sad but she had no other option.
"Availability is really, really hard and it's also hard to find a good quality centre."
Mrs Seneviratne has 200 families on her waiting list at Billabong Childcare in East Victoria Park and in recent years could only take the siblings of children already there.
"It's very disappointing for the parents who have been on the waiting list for so many months," she said.
Mrs Seneviratne said it was hard to attract staff because of low wages but she paid above the award and encouraged staff to upskill to try to keep them.
Though she welcomed the National Quality Framework reforms Labor introduced in 2012 to regulate and assess child care, new regulations put a financial burden on centres.
As a result she had to lift daily fees $10 to $87 this year.
In a submission to the childcare inquiry, Billabong's parent committee and management said the extra cost from new qualification requirements, full lunch and break coverage, higher award rates and a .25 per cent increase in superannuation would be about $100,000 this year.
They also wanted deregulated operating hours considered to improve flexibility.