Elma was raised on Waiben (Thursday Island) in the Torres Strait. Her clan is from the North Western and Central Islands of the Torres Strait.
She studied at NAISDA Dance College and joined Bangarra in 1999; she has since had a rich and rewarding career as a Dancer, Choreographer, Actor and Teacher.
Her many choreographic credits include Bupau Ipikazil and Bupau Mabigal (NAISDA Dance College, 1994) Malu (Bibir Dance Company, 1998), the Torres Strait Islander element of the Sydney 2000 Olympics Opening Ceremony, and Emeret Lu (2007) and About (2011) with Bangarra Dance Theatre.
Elma’s film credits include Oscar and Lucinda, Reef Dreaming, Farscape, Spear and the ABC radio broadcast Not Your Mob Next Door.
In 2007, Elma won a Deadly Award for Dancer of the Year and in 2008 performed the title role in Mathinna. In 2013, she was invited to undertake a Visiting Fellowship with the Australian National University. In 2015 she was one of five artists who took part in Unsettled, an exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. In 2016 Elma played the title role of Nyapanyapa Yunupingu in Stephen Page's Nyapanyapa. In 2019, Elma was recognised for her immense contribution to the artistic and cultural community with a prestigious NAIDOC Award for Artist of the Year.
Elma retired as a Dancer in 2019, but continues to work with the company as a Guest Artist and Choreographer, and with the Youth Program Team.