Households are going without food and medicines and are unable to pay bills as cost of living pressures take hold, welfare advocates say.
Decreasing affordability of electricity, petrol and food are the biggest concerns for consumers, according to a new survey by consumer group Choice.
More than 80 per cent of respondents worried about the price of power in the June quarter, making it the most troubling item for households.
Gavin Dufty from St Vincent de Paul said more families were unable to meet the costs of essentials.
"One of the things we find is there's a bigger bill load at certain times of the year, so households feel cost pressures at different times," he said.
"Some households are unable to pay for essential services so they get disconnected when big winter energy bills come around."
The latest Consumer Pulse Report, released Thursday, showed 78 per cent of consumers were worried about the price of fuel, with the same proportion concerned about food and grocery prices.
"Households will go without things," Mr Dufty said.
"Some parents will go without food so the kids can eat. Older people will not fill their prescriptions."
Choice chief executive Alan Kirkland said cost pressures were affecting households across the board, but hitting some parts of the community worse than others.
"Renters, low-income households and the unemployed (are) most likely to be struggling, and families with school-aged kids the group most concerned about rising household expenses," he said.
Nine out of 10 families with school-aged children said bills increased in the last 12 months, while 74 per cent of parents with children under five are worried about childcare fees.
"One of the new groups presenting for assistance is young couples who lose a source of income when they start a family and are then hit with the high costs associated with raising kids," said Mr Dufty.
"So it's not surprising that group is represented in the report."