From July 1 next year, funding for Victorian community legal centres will be cut by 10 per cent, with further cuts expected until 2020.

Whittlesea Community Connections (WCC), which runs the WCLS, said the loss of 10 per cent in funding could mean cuts to its services.

Acting chief executive Peta Fualau said the centre could be forced to cut the number of lawyers it employs, which would in turn reduce the number of people the centre would be able to help.

She said WCLS has a large catchment, with the closest community legal centre to the north of Whittlesea being at Shepparton.

“Our capacity not to be able to reach out to the community is real,” she said.

Ms Fualau said demands for help were increasing in growth areas such as Whittlesea, as families struggle with rising costs, increasing debts and family violence-related problems.

Family violence cases

Last year, WCLS helped 1961 clients, many of whom sought help for family violence.

Police statistics reveal Whittlesea has one of the highest rates of family violence in the northern metropolitan area.

Between January 1 and March 31, WCC saw 128 new clients for issues relating to family violence, up 50 per cent on the previous quarter.

Ms Fualau warned cutting community legal services would escalate existing problems.

“It only takes one incident to put the family budget out of kilter,” she said.