About half the people represented in the survey were struggling to support dependent children.
“The great concern for me is the social exclusion that starts to take place,” he said.
“Children will come home with an invitation to a birthday party and (parents) will think,’Well, they’re not going’ because they don’t want the children to be embarrassed because they don’t have a present to take or nice clothes to wear.”
One person surveyed said: “We lost everything in the flood less than 12 months ago and have not recovered emotionally or financially. And our relationship is suffering.”
Mr Craib said this was typical.
“In an economic downturn or a natural disaster, the people that the Salvos see are often the first to be affected and the last to recover,” he said.
Nearly all the survey’s respondents, 94 per cent, had no savings, and 87 per cent had no home contents insurance.
The charity’s need for funds was “desperate”, he said, and would be stretched as the weather got colder and utility bills began rising.
The annual doorknock appeal takes place this weekend, May 19 and 20, with a fundraising goal of $81.5 million.