Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reflected on the challenging two years of the pandemic with students at De La Salle College, Caringbah, telling them it is what they believe that will "get them through" tough times in their lives.
Mr Morrison was speaking on Friday at the official opening and blessing of a new multi-purpose hall, which can accommodate 1000 students and is part of a $9 million expansion, which includes internal and external sports facilities, additional music rooms and an amphitheatre for outdoor learning.
Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher OP led the blessing of the hall, which is named Wiyanga Ngabamara, meaning Mary mother of God in Aboriginal language.
Mr Morrison spoke directly to students of the college, which he said was "affectionately known as De La throughout the shire".
"The last two years have been very different, even more importantly very difficult, for our country," he said.
"I have thought a lot about our students in years 11 and 12, about how families have supported their children in two of the most challenging and important years of a student's life.
"Across our country, businesses have had to push through, people have lost incomes people have lost loved ones.
"It's been a very hard time, and when you reflect on hard times you think what are the most important things?
"There have been many difficult times as Prime Minister, difficult decisions that we have had to make.
"The thing that sustains me through all those things, and I have no doubt it sustains your teachers, priests, parents, and indeed the things that have sustained you, go very much to what you believe.
"We learn much in life, but it is in those difficult times that what you believe, the love and care of those around you, that is indeed what sustains you."
Mr Morrison said the question could be asked why the federal government was spending $2.5 million of taxpayers' money to build such a facility?
"There are state schools, very fine ones here in the shire, so why is 80 per cent of the funding provided by the federal government for education provided to schools such as this one?" he said.
"The reason is we believe parents want to have choice to ensure their children can get an education which combines learning with belief.
"They don't just want you to excel in your studies...We have seen some wonderful facilities that would help them to do all those things, but I believe the reason you are here at De La is because what you have is an opportunity to grow stronger in your beliefs.
"Because I can tell you this, that's what's going to get you through."
Mr Morrison told students not to be defined by their gender, age or ethnic background.
"You are way more," he said.
"You are ultimately what you believe.
"And this is a school that passionately believes in that mission and that cause.
"There are many such schools around the country who do exactly the same thing.
"And that's why the federal government is so keen to [provide funding] because we want young men and women in this country to have this opportunity to be exposed to an education that embraces belief.
"Think about what your beliefs are, be careful about what your beliefs are, this is an important time to really understand that and there are people here who can guide you along that path.
"The federal government is investing billions of dollars all around the country building facilities just like this so parents can have that choice and so students can have the opportunity for an education that has an extra element in it, which I personally think makes all the difference."