She sits on the floor weeping, her head in her hands.
The Department of Immigration came under fire this week for releasing the photo, which it captioned "a female asylum seeker comes to terms with the fact she won't be settled in Australia".
But this woman is the human face of the government and opposition's hardline policies ahead of an election designed to stop asylum seekers coming by boat at all costs.
As thousands demonstrated in capital cities in support of asylum seekers this week, more lost their lives in ill-fated attempts to make the dangerous journey to Australia in ageing Indonesian fishing boats. The government and opposition agreed there is only one solution: get tough.
Since 2001, when John Howard declared, "We will decide who comes into this country and the circumstances in which they come," how we react to asylum seekers coming to our shores by boat has been a political - rather than policy - question.
The number of asylum seekers arriving by boats has risen steadily since Labor dismantled the Coalition's border protection policies in 2008. In that year, 161 people arrived by boat. This year, more than 16,500 have come. About 1000 asylum seekers have arrived in the week since Rudd announced his tough new deterrent policy last Friday.
This week has shown that the question for major parties, jockeying for votes in this year's election, is who can be tougher on boat people. As one Labor backbencher said: "We had to do something. We're getting murdered out there." But how will it work? And what are the risks? And can anyone estimate the cost?
STOP THE BOATS
Labor wrong-footed the opposition last week when it announced it would send all asylum seekers who arrive by boat to Papua New Guinea for processing and, if found to be refugees, for resettlement. Immigration Minister Tony Burke says the plans would "break the people smugglers' business model" and deny them a "product" to sell.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott effectively declared war on people smugglers on Thursday, declaring a Coalition government would launch a military-led border protection campaign, called Operation Sovereign Borders. Describing the situation as "a crisis on our borders" and branding it "a national emergency" Abbott said: "This is one of the most serious external situations that we have faced in many a long year.
"That's why it must be tackled with decisiveness, with urgency, with the appropriate level of seriousness. That's why we need to have a senior military officer in operational control of this very important national emergency."
But the militaristic response has unsettled many within the defence community, including retired admiral Chris Barrie, who served as the defence chief in charge of turning back asylum-seeker boats under John Howard. "These people are not our enemies; they're not attacking Australia," he said. "I think we've got a humanitarian and refugee crisis in the world today. I don't think anybody's going to be able to stop these people wanting to come to Australia. Unless we create conditions at the source of the problem rather than the end of the problem we're not going to really change the stream of people wanting to come to a land of hope and opportunity like Australia."
He is an unlikely ally of the Greens' immigration spokeswoman, Sarah Hanson-Young, who said: "Tony Abbott's military rhetoric is deliberately inflammatory and grossly irresponsible. This is not a national emergency, it's a humanitarian emergency."
A REGIONAL SOLUTION?
While Labor looks to its regional Pacific neighbours to help shoulder the load of processing asylum seekers, the Coalition wants to go it alone. A Coalition government would, in the first 100 days, create a joint agency taskforce comprising more than 12 government agencies, finalise plans to turn back boats "where it is safe to do so", increase capacity at offshore processing centres on Manus Island and Nauru, and lease and deploy additional vessels to intercept asylum seekers. Like Labor's plan, the final cost of the exercise will depend on how long it takes to achieve its aim.
For Abbott, the record number of asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat reflects Labor's flaccid view of Australian sovereignty.
"I say to Mr Rudd: stop making excuses, stop trying to say this is the world's problem," he said last week.
"It's not. It's our problem and we need to take the appropriate action in this country, by this country, for this country to stop the boats, and we need to do it now."
But refugee flows are, by their very nature, an international problem. And it's far from clear that Australia can simply batten down the hatches and make the world's refugees go away by changing its policies.
A Sri Lankan man who survived a boat that sank near Java on Wednesday, Kajendran, told Fairfax Media on Thursday that he would try to reach Australia again. Kajendran said he did not think the Australian government's new policy would change anything, although PNG was "OK, no problem".
"But for me any country in the world is better than going back to Sri Lanka," the 28-year-old added.
"I can't go back to Sri Lanka. People will keep trying to go to Australia. People like me who can't go back to our country, they'll keep trying."
But Australia's desire to co-operate better with the region to tackle people smuggling has hit many hurdles, most of our own making.
This week, opposition politicians drew the ire of PNG, with Port Moresby's representative in Australia, Charles Lepani, taking the unusual step of reminding politicians not to make unhelpful generalisations about his country after they criticised the deal.
Then Tantowi Yahya, a member of Indonesia's Foreign Affairs Commission, rebuked Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for failing to contact his government before announcing the deal with PNG. "The first thing that your country or the Prime Minister should contact is the minister of foreign affairs," he said.
"And I've spoken with the minister a day after the announcement; he said he doesn't know anything about it."
Former prime minister Julia Gillard's desire to set up a processing centre in East Timor sank without trace, while Australia's High Court scuttled a planned "people swap" with Malaysia in 2011, labelling it unlawful. Refugee lawyers in Australia are already examining the deal with PNG, to assess how a legal challenge could be mounted against the policy.
THE PNG DEAL
Labor's proposal to send all asylum seekers to PNG is not without its problems. When Tony Burke became Immigration Minister on July 1, one of his first acts was to order that women and children asylum seekers be brought back from Manus Island's detention centre to the mainland.
It was an admission, as Burke later acknowledged, that the camp was not suitable for children. Since then, he has promised that standards at the camp - which has been open since November - would be brought up to UN standards. He said rows of military tents would be replaced by permanent buildings to house an unknown number of asylum seekers while they are processed, to ensure minimum welfare standards are met.
But with the first group due to be sent there within weeks, it's unclear how the government will achieve this for the thousands more PNG expects to be processed on its shores.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Friday issued a scathing assessment of the government's PNG plans, saying the deal between Australia and PNG raised "very significant policy, legal and operational challenges".
"UNHCR is troubled by the current absence of adequate protection standards and safeguards for asylum seekers and refugees in Papua New Guinea," it said. "While UNHCR understands that a number of these issues are being addressed, it is concerned at the prospect of further transfers taking place under the new RRA [Refugee Resettlement Arrangement] in the absence of appropriate protection guarantees and to what will remain temporary facilities on Manus Island for the foreseeable future."
A UNHCR spokesman said: "UNHCR does not have a comment to make on the operational structures of Australian defence and border protection authorities."
Despite the inability of the major parties to find a bipartisan solution to the issue, there is clear bipartisan agreement on two points: the boats must be stopped, and the best way to do that is to take as tough, and as hardline, an approach as possible.