His department anticipates an “unprecedented peak” of incidents this year due to current isolation restrictions.
But Butera fears many cases will go undetected.
“This service has been around for years and we have never seen a downward trend like this,” she said.
“From those who call, we hear concerns about child care arrangements [and] to be “imprisoned” at home on behalf of COVID-19.
“With the necessary measures designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, children are at home, and not necessarily in plain sight of teachers, neighbors or the community.”
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Dean McWhirter, who leads the domestic violence response to force, said it was inevitable that more children would have be exposed to damage to the home while people were inside.
“Unfortunately and tragically, we are now exposing more children to the trauma of family violence,” said Mr. McWhirter.
“They will witness trauma at home that they may not have seen before and which, unfortunately, will have an impact on their well-being.
“It will be a very living problem.”
Police from the State Domestic Violence Task Force will visit the homes of some of the state’s most at risk perpetrators in the hope of limiting the risk of re-offending.
McWhirter said if managed on a case-by-case basis, this could change over time as reports are likely to increase.
“We bring people together in very difficult and anxious times,” said McWhirter.
“[Our response] will be beyond our normal engagement. “
Butera said factors such as the closing of pubs were unlikely to have contributed to the decline in calls for help, with power imbalances and inequality being the main causes of domestic violence.
“Where there is respect and equality, whether a person is drunk or not, there is no family violence. Alcohol is a contributing factor, but not a causation. “
The state hotline against domestic violence was available 24 hours a day, and staff were ready to conduct risk assessments and provide emergency accommodation for those at risk and for children.
She asked people to report any incidents of family violence they could see or hear of.
“We recognize that this can be a difficult time, so it’s a call to action for neighbors, friends and others to call us. We are there to help, we are not leaving. “
A spokesperson for the 1800 RESPECT national advisory service said calls to its helpline have started to increase in recent days after a previous decline.
For assistance, call Safe Steps at 1800 015 188 or the national domestic violence helpline at 1800 RESPECT. In the event of an emergency call 000.
Erin covers the crime for The Age. Most recently, she was a police reporter with Geelong Advertiser.