Some single mothers hit by recent welfare cuts to parenting payments have turned to prostitution and strip clubs in order to keep a roof over their family's head.
The payment cuts came in at the start of 2013 and affect 84,000 single parents, mostly mothers who received parenting payments.
The majority have been shifted onto the Newstart unemployment allowance when their youngest child turns eight.
More than 60,000 single parents now receive between $60 to $100 a week less under entitlement changes.
While the federal budget will look $728 million better over four years and make the system more sustainable, welfare groups have been concerned families will fall into poverty.
A spokeswoman from a Brisbane brothel told AAP there had been "influx" in applications from single mothers looking for work since the welfare changes came through.
She said there had been about 20 applications.
"They're looking for extra cash to help cope following the cuts and Christmas and back to school," said the spokeswoman, who did not want to be identified.
Women working at this brothel could make up to $1000 during an eight hour shift, seeing three to five clients, she said.
A spokeswoman from an inner-city Melbourne brothel said she knew of some single mothers, affected by the cuts, applying for jobs in strip clubs.
"They find pole dancing is a bit more palatable," she said.
"It's an easier step compared to going all the way with sex work."
A woman from a St Kilda brothel said she had also noticed a huge increase in single mothers seeking sex work.
"It's sad. They're doing it to pay their rent," she said, but also declined to give her name.
Single Parents Action Group spokeswoman Katrina Rae said she was not surprised women in her position were turning to sex work and stripping to pay the bills.
"I wouldn't personally, but you would do anything to feed your family," she said.
Ms Rae, a Sydney mother of four teenagers, said she had done her family budget on Sunday morning and was $287 behind for the next fortnight.
"I don't have breakfast or lunch. If there's not enough food for dinner I'll have toast so the kids can eat," she said.
She said as a victim of domestic violence she didn't choose to be a single parent.
"Society sees us as a bunch of teenagers who can't close their legs," Ms Rae said.
"For me the choice was continue to be a punching bag or get out."
Ms Rae works a full-time job in insurance, commutes 22 hours a week for work, and only manages to stay $25 above the poverty line each week.
"I've considered moving our family into a garage and living in the car," she said.
Adelaide single mother Samantha Seymour said a woman she knew of affected by the payment cuts had spoken to a male staffer at Centrelink about her desperate situation.
"She told him `What am I supposed to do? Turn to prostitution?' and he replied `You have to do what you have to do," Ms Seymour told AAP.
St Vincent de Paul chief executive officer John Falzon said the reports were sadly not surprising.
"This is clearly unravelling as a poor policy decision and a cruel and unnecessarily punitive decision," he said.
"It's a disgrace."
Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said "no mother should feel like this is the only option."
"It's punishing the very people once upon time Labor was trying to protect," she said.
Comment is being sought from the federal government departments concerned.