Since the return to democracy in the 1990s, community programmes in Chile have been pervaded by the neoliberal and neo-colonial approaches of social policies promoted by the state and supranational organisations, such as the World Bank. In this article, we examine the possibilities of front-line community social workers dismantling such a hegemonic rationale. Drawing upon the contributions of Latin American decolonial thought, we argue that social workers are able to exert resistance on the individual, competitive and instrumental approaches underlying their community interventions by decolonising their understandings and professional practices, and by being involved in collective political action. An exploration of Mapuche philosophy is offered as a means to illustrate some key dimensions in order to scrutinise community interventions and challenge the traditional mainstream Western and Eurocentric notions of community, knowledge and professional bonds and encounters. These proposals apply when working not only with culturally different populations, but also with all those subaltern groups oppressed by the neoliberal and neo-colonial rationale, in the interest of contributing to cognitive justice – another dimension of social justice.