Many Australians are battling, with some living off just $17 a day.
Salvation Army research found their clients on the Newstart allowance program were choosing between paying bills and buying food because they had so little to live off.
The Salvation Army’s research also found many who were not on the Newstart allowance were still living on just $21 a day, and more then 80 per cent spent more than half their income on housing.
About 40 per cent of households with children can’t afford three meals a day.
The report found many Australians struggled to find a safe place to sleep and put food on the table.
Jane, 51, found herself homeless after her relationship broke down and she lost her job.
The former human resources consultant was given a roof over her head just two weeks ago.
“You don’t believe you’re in a homeless situation until you’re in it,” Jane told 7 News.
“You don’t believe you’ve gone down that route.”
Jane was forced to camp in rest areas in a borrowed campervan and sometimes only had just a few cents in her account.
“I just had minimal food supplies and I would survive that way,” she said.
Salvation Army funding and communications director Leigh Cleave said they saw stories like Jane’s every day.
“We see it every day, people coming from all walks of life. Hardship can hit anybody,” she said.
The current climate of rising costs, flatlining wages and casualisation of the workforce means many people are just one crisis away from needing help.
This weekend people are asked to donate to the Salvation Army’s annual Red Shield Appeal.