Budgeting services say the number of people they're helping has skyrocketed, with an average debt of more than $20,000.
Chief executive of the Federation of Family Budgeting Services, Raewyn Fox, says about 30,000 families were using the services in 2009.
Ms Fox says that has shot up to 50,000 a year, and the last fortnight has been the busiest in history for the Federation's help-line.
She says people usually have about $20,000 in debt when they seek help, with nearly $4000 of that overdue.
Ms Fox says the rapid increase in clients is partly due to the global recession but also because of law changes that require some people on a benefit to get budgeting help.
She says while most clients are people on a benefit there's a growing number of middle-income families who are struggling to make ends meet.