Sally Major joined the Northern Territory’s growing army of innovators for the most simple of reasons: self-protection
This born-and-bred Territorian was in the police force and was acutely aware that officers are constantly at risk of knife attack.
So she invented a slash-proof vest, which can be worn by any frontline worker, such as police, particularly plain-clothed officers, military, ambulance officers and security guards.
The lightweight vest is also suitable for workers in factories - and even VIPs.
“I know that my vest is needed and could save lives.”
“The vest is not protection against being stabbed,” says Sally. “But paramedics have told me that you are often more in danger of bleeding out from a slash than a stab, unless the stab hits an artery or vital organ.”
While in the police force, Sally was constantly faced with the difficulty of reaching the gear she was duty-bound to carry, whether it was handcuffs , capsicum spray or spare pistol magazine.
“Normal plain clothes are just not made for all that bulky equipment.”
Sally’s Darwin-based company Covertact has exclusive Australian rights to use Dyneema diamond technology fabric for the vests.
The Dutch-invented Dyneema is said to be the strongest fabric in the world - 15 times stronger than steel but able to float on water.
It is used in heavy industry and on ships throughout the world.
Sally has offered to customise her vest for police in every state and territory - because officers in each jurisdiction carry different gear.
She is in talks with the Australian military.
Like most big thinkers, the mother-of-three has faced many difficulties designing and marketing her innovative vest - not least, juggling work with looking after her children.
She gained a much-appreciated Business Innovation Support Initiatives grant from the Department of Trade, Business and innovation to gain patents and sort out other legal issues.
And she has received welcome mentoring from Territory business owners Steve Margetic and Michael Hannon, David Howie from KPMG, and former Federal and Northern Territory police commissioner Mick Palmer.
“With an innovative product like mine, there is so much to learn. I even taught myself to sew so that I could understand what was required."