About your tracheostomy

An opening or hole is created in the neck into the windpipe (also known as the trachea) and a tube is inserted. This can be done by an intensive care doctor or a surgeon. The tracheostomy tube sits in the front of your neck and passes into the trachea. There are different types of tracheostomy tubes.

You may need it for one or more of these reasons:
• To give you an airway for breathing
• To allow connection to a ventilator (breathing machine)
• To remove (suction) saliva or mucous from your lungs
• To stop saliva or food and drink from going into your lungs

• You breathe in and out of the tracheostomy tube in your neck
• A ventilator can be attached to the tube if needed
• The tube can be suctioned so that saliva or mucous can be removed from your lungs
• The tracheostomy cuff can be up (inflated) or down (deflated)
• When the cuff is up, it stops large amounts of saliva from going into your lungs
• You will not be able to talk easily if the cuff is up

• Most people need the tracheostomy tube for a few weeks
• Some people need the tracheostomy tube long term

“I might not be able to do as much or as long or as fast, but I can still do [things]. Don’t focus on what you can’t do, focus on what you can do. There are adjustments, but you just got to go with the flow.”

– Peter and Sue Stickney

TRAMS Community


For patients who have a long term tracheostomy tube

TRAMS Community follows patients who have a tracheostomy tube (no ventilation requirements) who are discharged home from Austin Health.


The Victorian Respiratory Support Service(VRSS) manages patients who have a tracheostomy and ventilation.


TRAMS Community Services

  • Discharge planning
  • Education for patients and carers
  • Clinical Nurse Consultant home visits
  • Assistance with purchase and maintenance of equipment
  • Tracheostomy tube changes
  • Allied health support and therapy

E-learning packages for patients & carers

2 free interactive e-learning packages with videos have been designed for patients and their carers to learn more about living with a long-term tracheostomy.  Click the links to access the e-learning.



Patient Stories

Daisy’s story

Daisy Xu is a remarkable young woman who experienced a motorbike accident whilst on holiday in Vietnam resulting in a high spinal cord injury requiring ventilation via a tracheostomy.

Patient and Family Forums

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Since the inaugural Tracheostomy Patient and Family Forum in 2017, a vibrant, growing tracheostomy community has met to share stories, challenges, encouragement and ways to thrive while living with a tracheostomy. Check this website for updates on our next forum.

Some previous forums include:

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Patient and Family Forum 2023

25th May 2023

Continuing Conversations that Count: Ways to Wellbeing


Keynote Speaker: Daniela DeFazio Renowned Psychologist and Clinical Neuropsychologist, Co-director of Launch Psychology
Don’t miss Daniela’s powerful message on 5 simple ways to enhance wellbeing and vitality.

Dr Ethan Sperry and Colin Gray – These inspiring individuals will share their experiences of navigating wellbeing while living with a tracheostomy.

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Patient and Family Forum 2022

28th February 2022

Continuing Conversations that Count: The Restorative Power of Nature 

Guest Speakers
Andrew Laidlaw:  Renowned Landscape Architect, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, President of Global Gardens of Peace.  Don’t miss Andrew’s powerful message on the positive impact that nature and gardens can have on health and wellbeing. Andrew will also be speaking on the exciting ‘Food Forest Project,’ of which the late Gerard Stevenson, tracheostomy patient, author and businessman, initiated and was a key driving force.


Silvia & John Cama and Peter & Sue Stickney These inspiring patients and family members will share stories on the restorative power of nature.

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Patient and Family Forum 2020: A Symphony of Stories, Continuing Conversations that Count

In response to COVID-19, this forum was the first ZOOM forum. It was highly successful and evaluation of the event showed 96% of those who completed the evaluation agreed that the Tracheostomy Forums and being part of a tracheostomy community were important aspects of tracheostomy care.


Guest speaker Benjamin Northey (Chief conductor in residence, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra & Chief Conductor, The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, NZ) brought an inspiring message including insights from his involvement in the Christchurch Disaster Recovery.

Other guests include Daisy, Sally & Jenny and Larry & Michelle who gave insights into their lives and coping through the unprecedented year that was 2020.

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Patient and Family Forum 2018

The 2018 Tracheostomy Patient and Family Winter Forum was a wonderful occasion where we received an update on our global tracheostomy community and facilitated discussions on developing resilience.


We also had winter-warming fun with West African drumming. Each patient with a tracheostomy and their families and carers received a beautiful hand-made card designed and made by one of our tracheostomy in-patients.


Personal stories were shared and a sense of belonging and connection was created.

5th International Tracheostomy Symposium Melbourne 2019 – Patient and Family Sessions

Watch Daisy’s amazing performance.


Tracheostomy Patient and Family Festive Forum 2017

These events were the inaugural meetings and the beginning of a powerful tracheostomy community.

Tracheostomy Patient and Forum Mailing List

If you would like your name to be added to our mailing list so you receive notices about the Tracheostomy Patient and Family Forums, email [email protected] and use the subject line Tracheostomy Patient and Forum Mailing List

Introducing the Global Tracheostomy Collaborative

The Global Tracheostomy Collaborative (GTC) was formed by Dr. David Roberson, an ENT specialist at Harvard, following work by many researchers demonstrating that tracheostomy and laryngectomy patients are at high risk for preventable adverse events.


Dr. Roberson invited specialists from multiple disciplines from around the world to a foundational meeting in Glasgow, Scotland in July 2012. This group’s support and enthusiasm led to the founding of the GTC. Austin Health was invited to participate. Senior Austin Health staff participated in that meeting and Austin Health is the GTC Asia Pacific Lead site.


Patients and families join the GTC to CONNECT – SHARE – PARTNER. Integrating patients and families into quality improvement initiatives is essential to improving tracheostomy care!!


GTC Tracheostomy Patient and Family Committee

Connecting patients and families from around the globe to share stories, challenges and solutions, become friends and provide support.


The Asia Pacific Tracheostomy Patient and Family Subcommittee

  • For patients, families and carers in the Asia Pacific Region
  • This group aims to increase awareness, education and support
  • Work closely with the Austin Health team to host the Tracheostomy Patient and Family Forums
  • Visit Facebook Page: Aussie Tracheostomy Support Group


Introducing the Global Tracheostomy Collaborative